A special court in Bangladesh has sentenced one man to death and two of his associates to life in prison for killing two local fighters during the country's 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

The three were also convicted Wednesday of charges of raping women and confining and torturing unarmed people in the northeastern district of Habiganj. The eastern wing of Pakistan seceded as Bangladesh in 1971.

The three-member International Crimes Tribunal, set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010, announced the decision in a packed courtroom in Dhaka. Defense attorneys said they would appeal the verdict to a higher court.

Five senior leaders of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party and a leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have already been hanged for war crimes.