DHAKA: A special tribunal in Bangladesh on Monday sentenced three militia members to death for carrying out killings and other serious crimes in the country during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
Five other defendants were sentenced to life in prison. Justice Anwarul Haque, head of a three-member bench of judges, announced the verdict in a packed courtroom with only two of the defendants in the docks. The others were tried in absentia.
The accused men were members of the Al Badr militia group which the Bangladesh government say, collaborated with the Pakistani army to commit genocide in country’s Jamalpur district in 1971.
Bangladesh alleges that Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced 10 million people to flee to refugee camps across the border in India.
Prosecution lawyer Tureen Afroz said they were satisfied with the verdict.
Defense lawyer Gazi Tamim said they would appeal the verdict.
In 2010, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formed a special tribunal to try the suspected war criminals and since then it has convicted dozens of people.
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At least five of the convicts have been hanged for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and its main ally Jamaat-i-Islami party criticised the government, saying the trial is aimed at weakening the opposition.
But Hasina has rejected the allegations and said the families of the people killed in the 1971 war deserved justice.