Dhaka: Bangladeshi war criminal Ghulam Azam's last wish before his death has sparked controversy as he wanted his funeral prayers to be led by one of the two fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami leaders also convicted for atrocities during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
“He wished to be buried at family graveyard at Moghbazar in Dhaka and have his funeral prayers led by (Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and war crime convicts) Delwar Hossain Sayedee or Matiur Rahman Nizami,” Azam's counsel said today.
Azam, 93, died last night at the prison cell of a specialised hospital here, where he was serving his 90-years in jail sentence for masterminding atrocities during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan. He was suffering from old age ailments including heart and kidney disorders.
Azam's elder son and sacked army brigadier Abdullah Hil Aman Azmi endorsed the comment saying his father expressed his last wish that his funeral prayers or namaj-e-Janaza should be administered by either or the two fellow war crime convicts.
A special tribunal will soon pronounce verdict on the alleged war crimes of Nizami, who headed the infamous Al-Badr militia forces in 1971, while Bangladesh's apex court has already sentenced Sayeedi to imprisonment “until his death”, commuting an earlier death sentence by the tribunal.
However, Azam's last wish, to have war-crime convicts administer his funeral prayers came under sharp attack from leading campaigner of 1971 war-crime trials Shahriar Kabir, who accused Azam of playing “politics even in death”.
“Before death, people usually apologise for their misdeeds. But his lawyer said Azam had ordered holding his funeral prayers led by convicted war-crime convicts and people facing trials,” Kabir said, adding, “now other convicts might express similar wishes”.
No comment was available from the government whether any of the two jailed war-crime convicts and Jamaat leaders would be paroled to administer the funeral prayers of the ideological linchpin of the party, which was opposed to Bangladesh's Liberation War.
The family and party sources said Azam's burial will take place after the return of his five sons from abroad, and in the meantime, his body would be kept at a refrigerator van in front of his Moghbazar residence.