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Two Bangladeshi Expatriates Sentenced To Death Over War Crimes

Two prominent Bangladeshi expats — one a Muslim leader in the U.K. and the other a U.S. citizen — have been sentenced to death for war crimes committed during the country's fight for independence in 1971.

The BBC reports:

"UK-Bangladeshi Muslim community leader Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khanwas were being tried in absentia by a special tribunal in Bangladesh.

"They were found guilty on 11 charges relating to the abduction and killing of 18 independence supporters."

As Al Jazeera explains, this verdict is a part of a long effort by a special tribunal to bring the country to terms with its bloody war for independence from Pakistan. The network explains:

"The current government says up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals who collaborated with Pakistani forces. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government established the tribunal in March 2010 to try the collaborators, but it has been hit by a series of controversies.

"More than 100 people have been killed in protests and counter-protests over the war crimes convictions this year. Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from outside the courthouse, said security had been tightened although no violence was expected after Sunday's verdicts.

"He said the opposition, a coalition of 18 parties, believes that the tribunal is a way for the ruling party to try and physically eliminate some of the opposition parties, especially the religious ones, through 'judicial show trials.'"

Mueen Uddin told the network that while he supported Pakistan during the war, he was never involved in any "criminal activity."

Representatives for Mueen Uddin repeated that defense today.

"I am not at all surprised by the verdict that has been passed today by an institution that has lost all credibility," Toby Cadman, Mueen Uddin's counsel said. "We reject each and every charge leveled against Mr. Mueen-Uddin. This is coming from a body that has been accused of gross irregularity and misconduct by human rights groups, notable figures and institutions around the world."

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