DHAKA- A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentenced an Islamist party leader to death today after convicting him of atrocities committed during a 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Azharul Islam, 62, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty of five out of six charges including the murder of hundreds of minority Hindus, rape, abduction and torture, prosecutors said.

As the verdict was delivered, Islam stood up in the dock and shouted that his conviction had been "dictated" by the government.

Defence lawyer Tajul Islam rejected the charges. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 opened an inquiry into war crimes committed during the nine-month war.

The tribunals have angered Islamists who call them a politically motivated attempt by Hasina to persecute the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami, a key part of the opposition coalition.

More than 200 people have been killed in violent protests against the tribunal and its decisions, most of them Islamist party activists and members of the security forces.