Dhaka, Aug 11: A commander of the Razakars, an armed auxiliary force of Pakistani troops during Bangladesh's 1971 liberation war, was handed down the death penalty today while another from the notorious militia group was sentenced to life by a court here for genocide and war crimes.
Sheikh Sirajul Haque alias 'Siraj Master' was given the death penalty with Chairman of the three-member International Crimes Tribunal 1 Justice Enayetur Rahim pronouncing the verdict.
Haque would be hanged to death or shot down as he was found guilty on two charges of genocide and three of crimes against humanity, the judge ruled.
Lawyers and legal experts said according to Bangladesh's penal code, convicts sentenced to death are hanged by the neck but the special tribunals could also order war crimes convicts to be executed by firing squads since they are being tried under a special law. Justice Rahim said five of the six charges brought against Haque was proved beyond doubt and he deserved no punishment other than the death penalty for the gravity of crimes he had committed.
The tribunal also sentenced fellow convict Khan Akram Hossain, a member of the Razakar force under Haque's command, to imprisonment until death for his role in the killing of about 50 people in southwestern Bagerhat district in 1971.
Haque and Hossain, both in their 70s, faced the trial in person and were present in the dock as the judgement was read out. A third accused was also being tried along with the duo but charges against him were dropped as he died a natural death midway into the trial.
Since Bangladesh launched the war crimes trial, the two special tribunals, set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government in 2010, have handed down death penalties to over 15 people.
About three million people were killed by the Pakistani army and their Bengali-speaking collaborators during the country's liberation war.