Bangladesh hangs Jamaat-e-Islami chief for 1971 war crimes

Dhaka: Fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was hanged tonight, becoming the senior most Islamist to be executed for war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.

73-year-old leader of the Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party had refused to seek presidential clemency.

Nizami was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail at 12 midnight, a police officer who witnessed the hanging told PTI.

“The execution has been completed,” he said.

“Dhaka’s civil surgeon then declared him dead,” said additional police commissioner Sheikh Maruf Hassan, adding that an ambulance to be escorted by police car would carry Nizami’s body to his village home in northwestern Sathia for burial.

Dhaka’s district magistrate, the inspector general of prisons and senior police officials witnessed the hanging inside the high security prison compound.

Nizami’s final appeal against his death sentence for war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan was rejected by the apex court on May 5.

Elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion joined police to step up security around the Dhaka Central Jail in old part of the capital. The jail guards have beefed up the security inside the facility. The street in front of the jail has also been barricaded and closed to traffic.

Nizami’s family members, including his wife, two sons and their wives, went to the jail earlier this evening after prison officials asked them to meet him for the last time.

Witnesses said three cars carrying over 20 close relatives including his wife, two sons, their wives and a daughter reached the heavily guarded jail at 7.50 PM (local time) and came out at 8.40 PM (local time).

“We were asked by the jail officials to come to the prison as we earlier requested for the (last) meeting,” one of the relatives told reporters outside the prison gate.

Meanwhile, several hundred people, joined by a number of 1971 veterans, staged a midnight vigil at Shahbagh Square in the central part of the capital and rejoiced the execution as soon as the news broke.

Earlier today, prison officials said that jail doctors checked the heath of the death row convict last night after the Supreme Court verdict was read out to him while senior jail officials saw him at his solitary confinement earlier today.

A former minister in ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s BNP-led four-party coalition government, Nizami was in jail since 2010, when he was arrested to be tried 1971 war crimes.

He was given capital punishment in October 2014 by the tribunal after being convicted of “superior responsibility” as the chief of the infamous Al-Badr militia forces in 1971.

He was particularly found guilty of systematic killings of over 450 people alone in his own village.

With his execution, Nizami becomes the fifth top perpetrator to be hanged for the war crimes against humanity since the trial process began six years ago.

Nizami followed to the gallows, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdur Quader Molla – all top leaders of his party.