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Nov 13, 2:06 AM EST

Bangladesh man gets death for 1971 war crimes

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Bangladesh man gets death for 1971 war crimes

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Bangladesh man gets death for 1971 war crimes

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- A special Bangladesh tribunal on Thursday sentenced an opposition politician to death for his role in killing people and other crimes during the nation's 1971 independence war against Pakistan.

M.A. Zahid Hossain Khokon, of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, is a fugitive and believed to be in Sweden with his son and daughter.

He was convicted of leading the killings of people, looting and arson attacks during the war.

A.T.M. Fazle Rabbi, the head judge of a three-member panel, told a packed court that the tribunal had found Kohkon guilty of 10 of the 11 charges he faced.

Bangladesh blames Pakistani soldiers and local collaborators for the deaths of 3 million people during the nine-month war. An estimated 200,000 women were raped and about 10 million people were forced to take shelter in refugee camps in neighboring India.

Thursday's verdict was the 12th in which 13 people have been convicted after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the special tribunal to try war crimes suspects. Most of the charges have been against leaders of the country's main Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which openly campaigned against independence but denies that its leaders committing atrocities.

Hasina has called the trials a long-overdue effort to obtain justice four decades after Bangladesh split from Pakistan. Critics say she is using the tribunals to weaken the country's opposition parties.

Khokon's lawyers say he was deprived of justice, but according to the law, he cannot appeal the verdicts to the country's Supreme Court unless he first surrenders.

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