Bangladesh sentences former militia fighters to death

Two former pro-Pakistani militia fighters sentenced to death by Bangladeshi tribunal

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Relatives mourn the death of Saulat Mirza, who was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 1999 for killing three people and hanged, after his body arrived in Karachi, Pakistan May 12, 2015.

Two former pro-Pakistani militia fighters were sentenced to death by a Bangladeshi tribunal for war crimes during the 1971 independence conflict.

Lawyers for two men Obaidul Haque and Ataur Rahman, both above the age of 60, immediately announced that they would approach the International Crimes Tribunal to overturn the ruling.

So far 24 people have been convicted of war crimes in the conflict where East Pakistan broke away from the rest of the country to become Bangladesh.

Both men were convicted of raping a woman, torturing six abductees to death and killing seven people.

Since charges were laid against them last year, a total of 23 prosecution witnesses had testified against them.

Prosecutors reported that Haque was one of the leaders of a pro-Pakistani political party in 1971 and a head of a militia group behind a series of brutal attacks on civilians.

"We will challenge the verdict with the Supreme Court and hope our clients will be proved not guilty and be acquitted," defence lawyer Gazi Tamim told reporters after the sentence was handed down.

Over the last three years over 500 people have been killed in clashes between opposition activists and police over previous convictions and sentences from the tribunal.

While the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina supports that trials are needed to heal wounds from the conflict, opposition ideas say they are an attempt to eradicate its leadership.