Bangladesh hangs two for 1971 war crimes

Ali Mujahid was a mastermind in killings of the country’s top intelligentsia, while Salahuddin Chowdhury was convicted of leading a violent campaign against Hindus

Dhaka: Bangladesh yesterday executed two top opposition leaders for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan, hours after President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy petitions.

Bangladeshi freedom fighters who fought in the 1971 war hold a banner asking for the death penalty for Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (L) and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid (R). File Pic/AFP
Bangladeshi freedom fighters who fought in the 1971 war hold a banner asking for the death penalty for Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (L) and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid (R). File Pic/AFP

Secretary-General of Jamaat-e-Islami Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid (67) and BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury (66) were hanged at Dhaka Central Jail at 12.45 am, said a senior jail official, who witnessed the execution.

Jamaat, whose two other leaders already have been executed, called for a nationwide general strike today.

The execution
Jail sources said a seven-member team of hangmen comprising prison inmates carried out the executions. Soon after the execution, ambulances escorted by elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armed police came out of the prison complex carrying the bodies. Sources close to the two leaders’ families said Chowdhury would be buried at his village home in Rauzan’s Gohira village in Chittagong while Mojahid would be buried at his village home at Poshchim Khabashpur in Faridpur.

Sought clemency?
The two men were the first war crime convicts to seek presidential clemency. However, family members have dismissed reports that the men had made any such appeals, which would have also required admissions of guilt.

High alert
Bangladesh is on high alert and paramilitary border guards, RAB and police have beefed up the security. On Wednesday, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentences against Chowdhury and Mujahid, who were convicted in 2013 on charges including genocide, rape and torture.

About the convicts
Mujahid, Jamaat’s second most senior member, was found to be a mastermind of the massacre of the country’s top intelligentsia ahead of the 1971 war victory. Chowdhury, a top aide to BNP chief Khaleda Zia, carried out atrocities at his home district of southeastern Chittagong, leading a violent campaign against Hindus. He was an influential politician and was also elected MP six times.

Pak 'disturbed'

Pakistan yesterday voiced “concern and anguish” over the execution of two top opposition leaders for war crimes committed during the 1971 war with Pakistan. “We have noted with deep concern and anguish the unfortunate executions... Pakistan is deeply disturbed at this development,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

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