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B’deshi former Awami League leader gets death sentence for war crimes

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Dhaka (Nov. 24, 2014): A former leader of Bangladesh's ruling party was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal on Monday in connection with atrocities committed during the country's war of independence from Pakistan.

The tribunal said it found former militia commander guilty in two of the five charges brought against him.

64-year-old Hossain, clad in a white dress, was handed death for the killing of 33 civilians at his home district in central Brahmanbaria district on August 22, 1971.

Hossain was sentenced to life imprisonment in another charge of killing while the prosecution brought against him the charges of murder, abduction, confinement, torture and looting homes of their valuables.

He was the commander of the local unit of Razakar, a militia force comprising Bengali-speaking collaborators which Pakistanis formed as their auxiliary troops in 1971.

Hossain was associated with fundamentalist Jamaat-e- Islami, which was opposed to Bangladesh's independence.

After the defeat of Pakistan, he managed to join Awami League, which led the liberation war.

So far, Hossain is the only Awami League leader to face trial for war crimes.

The party expelled him two years ago when his role in 1971 resurfaced after tribunal initiated the process for the trial of the war criminals.

Ahead of his expulsion, Hossain served as the Awami League organising secretary of a union parishad, the lowest administrative tier at grassroots, for 16 years until 2012.

The death penalty to the militia commander was celebrated at Shahbagh by supporters of the pro-democracy Ganajagaran Mancha.