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Bangladesh court sentences 1 man to death, another to life in prison for 1971 war crimes

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — A war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh sentenced one man to death and another to life in prison Tuesday for collaborating with Pakistan to commit mass killings and other crimes during the 1971 war for independence.

The head judge of a three-member panel, M. Enayetur Rahim, handed down the sentences to Sheikh Sirajul Islam and Khan Akram Hossain in a packed courtroom in Dhaka.

The men faced charges including killing up to 700 civilians in the southwestern district of Bagerhat during the war. They were also found guilty of killing up to 50 minority Hindus in one village in a separate incident.

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war, which ended in December 1971.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to punish the collaborators. At least 17 people, mostly from the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, have been sentenced to death or life in prison. Two senior party leaders have been executed.

Jamaat-e-Islami is the main partner of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted 2014 general elections and is headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia — Hasina's archrival.

Jamaat-e-Islami had openly campaigned against Bangladesh's independence and formed militias to prevent it from breaking away from Pakistan.

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