Bangladesh executes two opposition leaders for 1971 war crimes

(From dpa)

Death row war criminals Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed of the Jammat-e-Islami party and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were executed after Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy petitions late Saturday.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed (L) and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed (L) and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury

Earlier in the day, capital Dhaka saw enhanced security ahead of the scheduled execution of two opposition politicians convicted of crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan.

Jamaat e Islami is one of the partners of the BNP-led opposition alliance of former prime minister Khaleda Zia. BNP and Jamat formed a coalition government in 2001.

Some 2,000 troops from Border Guard Bangladesh were patrolling city streets along with other security forces, said Mohammad Mohsin, a spokesman of the border force.

Police shut down roads to and from Dhaka Central Jail, where authorities had prepared the gallows for the two politicians.

Shops and business establishments near the jail were also closed. Officers could be seen searching bystanders at makeshift checkpoints nearby.

The government on Wednesday blocked social media site Facebook and other microblogging platforms ahead of the execution. Intelligence agencies said they feared the criminals could use the sites for subversive activities.

A special war crimes tribunal, set up by Hasina in 2010, convicted both Chowdhury and Mujahid of genocide, torture and crimes against humanity committed during the nine-month armed struggle in 1971.

Bangladesh’s earlier initiative to prosecute war crimes was called off after the 1975 assassination of the country’s founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was Hasina’s father.

Chowdhury and Mujahid filed review petitions on October 14 after the appeal court upheld the death sentences they received in 2013. The review petitions were rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Mujahid, secretary general of the Jammat-e-Islami, was convicted of four counts of war crimes on July 17, 2013 while Chowdhury, a standing committee member of BNP, was handed the death sentence on October 1, 2013 after being convicted of nine charges.

Two top-ranking leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, have already been executed after verdicts from the tribunal.

Assistant Secretary General of the party Abdul Kader Mollah was hanged on December 12, 2013 and Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Qamaruzzaman was executed on April 12 this year.

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