Dhaka: An elderly former Bangladesh minister who was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes during the 1971 independence struggle died on Saturday after a prolonged illness, an official said.
Abdul Alim, 84, an opposition official, was convicted and sentenced by the country's war crimes court last October on nine charges including genocide, murder and the persecution of the minority Hindus during the war against Pakistan.
While announcing the verdict, the International Crimes Tribunal said Alim, who was a minister when the current main opposition party was in power, deserved the death penalty but spared him the hangman's noose because of his poor health and age.
After a long struggle with lung cancer, he died at a Dhaka hospital while in custody on Saturday afternoon, Bangladesh's prisons chief Syed Ifekharuddin told AFP.
"His lung cancer spread to other organs of the body recently and he was admitted to the hospital on July 13," he added.
Alim was convicted of involvement in the killing of 372 Hindus in one of the worst single acts of murder during the war in the northwestern district of Joypurhat where he was a local head of a pro-Pakistani militia called Razakar Bahini.