Bangladesh on Saturday night executed Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, an Islamist party leader convicted of war crimes, which is the second execution for crimes against humanity committed during the country’s war of independence in 1971.
The death sentence of the war crimes accused Kamaruzzaman, assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, was executed days after an Appellate Division bench dismissed his plea to review the previous verdict that confirmed the capital punishment awarded to him by International Crimes Tribunal-2 on May 9, 2013.
Kamaruzzaman was indicted in June 2012 with seven charges of crimes against humanity including looting, mass killings, arson, rape and forcefully converting people into Muslims during the war.
The tribunal found the Jamaat leader guilty of collaborating with Pakistani forces and committing war crimes including mass killings.
Bangladeshi Supreme Court judges on Wednesday signed the death verdict for convicted war criminal Muhammad Kamaruzzaman.
The dismissal and subsequently his refusal to seek presidential pardon paved the way for executing the Jamaat leader, who was hanged at 10:01 p.m. (local time) Saturday night.
A Dhaka Central Jail official who preferred to be unnamed said “it was at 10:01 p.m. local time when a relevant official dropped a handkerchief from his hand to give signal to the hangmen.”
Kamaruzzaman’s hanging came weeks after Bangladesh celebrates its 45th Independence Day which falls on March 26.
Security measures have been beefed up in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country to avert any untoward situation.
All major Dhaka roads leading to Dhaka Central Jail have been sealed off to all vehicular movements since 7:00 p.m. (local time).
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh jail authorities asked family members to Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, raising speculation that the Islamist party leader might be executed Saturday.
The authorities called his family shortly after Bangladeshi State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told journalists that the Jamaat leader may be executed (today) Saturday.
Kamal passed the remarks as Kamaruzzaman also followed Abdul Quader Molla’s footsteps and decided against seeking presidential pardon, the last hurdle for the authorities to execute his death sentence.
His party Jamaat on Monday again pleaded his innocence and claimed that he had no links with war crimes in 1971 when he was a high school student.
Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla, convicted of war crimes in 1971, was executed on Dec. 12, 2013.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said about 3 million people were killed in the 9-month war.
After returning to power in January 2009, Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 war.
Apart from Jamaat, ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the country’s largest opposition party, has also dismissed the court as a government “show trial” and said it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the United Nations.
But the ruling Bangladesh Awami League party denied the calls of BNP and Jamaat, saying they are creating anarchic situation in the name of political programs. Enditem