A Bangladesh court has sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment for gang-raping a female high school student during the violent unrest following elections in 2001.

Six of the convicted in the courtroom in the town of Sirajganj, in north-central Bangladesh, while the other five are fugitives and sentenced in absentia.

The victim was believed to be a Hindu in a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim. During the post-election chaos in 2001, religious minorities were reportedly attacked across the nation. In April of this year a judicial commission determined that more than 200 Hindu were raped at that time. Many Hindu families fled to India.

The presiding judge, Osman Haider, also fined each defendant 100,00 Taka (which will be handed over to the plaintiff), according to Bangladesh News.

Those parliamentary elections in 2001 were won by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami.

All eleven convicted men were BNP members. (The BNP is now the opposition in Bangladesh).

A judicial inquiry indicated that BNP and its allies had incited the attacks on non-Muslims. However, both political parties have denied that they had any connection to the rapes.

Public prosecutor Abdur Rahman Rana told reporters after the verdict: It has been proved through the court verdict that the BNP-Jamaat-led four-party alliance government unleashed repression on the minority community people across the country after the general elections in 2001.