Dhaka: Bangladesh late Tuesday executed a top Islamist leader for crimes committed during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, the law minister said.
Motiur Rahman Nizami, 72, was hanged after he lost his final appeal against the sentence. Nizami led Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami. Previous executions of party leaders have sparked violent protests.
Motiur Rahman Nizami being taken to a prison in a van. File pic/AFP
He was convicted of genocide, rape and torture, charges the defence said were not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Security was tightened across the country ahead of the execution. Supporters of Nizami protested outside Dhaka's Central prison, where the sentence was carried out.
Nizami was the fourth leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party to have been executed since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up a war crimes tribunal to look into abuses during the independence war. A former government minister, Nizami was one of the most important figures to be found guilty.
He was convicted of setting up a militia which helped the Pakistani army identify and kill pro-independence activists. Supporters and some rights groups said the executions were politically motivated.
Nizami will be buried in his village home in the northern part of Bangladesh. His family met him briefly before his execution but left without speaking to the media, Bangladesh's Daily Star reported.
The hanging comes amid a spate of killings of liberal activists, secularists, foreigners and members of religious minorities that the government has blamed on Islamists.