Dhaka: Three Islamists were handed down the death penalty while five others were given life imprisonment by a special tribunal in Bangladesh for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war with Pakistan.
A three-member panel of judges of Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-BD), led by Justice Anwarul Haque, pronounced the judgment as two of the convicts appeared on the dock while six others were tried in absentia, as they were on the run to evade justice.
The verdict came as the prosecution accused all eight of five charges regarding crimes like mass murders, abductions, tortures and lootings.
Prosecution lawyers said six of the convicts were members of the infamous Al-badr auxiliary force of the Pakistani troops during the war and carried out atrocities in northern Jamalpur district.
The two others belonged to Razakar, another Bengali-manned armed group raised by Pakistan during the war. Manned by activists of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami group, which was opposed to Bangladesh's 1971 independence from Pakistan, the Al-Badr appeared as an extremely notorious force by carrying out ruthless atrocities siding with Pakistani troops.
The verdict came amid nationwide tensions following the recent two back-to-back Islamist terror attacks in the country, following which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hinted that Jamaat could be behind the assaults.
Bangladesh has executed four war crimes convicts since the process began to try the top Bengali perpetrators of the 1971 atrocities in line with the electoral commitment of Prime Minister Hasina in 2008.