War crimes convict Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was executed on Saturday night, becoming the second Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leader to be hanged for war-time atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971.
Kamaruzzaman (65), assistant secretary general of the party, was hanged at the Dhaka Central Jail after he lost all legal battles against the charges of genocide and rape brought against him.
The hanging took place shortly after 10 p.m. amid tight security in and around the Dhaka Central Jail and across the country.
Mollah hanged in 2013
Earlier, in December 2013, Abdul Quader Mollah, another assistant-secretary general of Jamaat, was executed on charges of genocide and rape. Mollah became the first war crimes convict to be executed after the country’s war crimes tribunals began their trials in March 2010, nearly four decades after Bangladesh’s independence. The trials were conducted amid fierce opposition from Jamaat and its political allies like the Khaeda Zia-led BNP but enjoyed overwhelming support from the nation’s majority.
After a long legal battle, the final verdict by the top appeals court was communicated to Kamaruzzaman on April 8. The next day, Kamaruzzaman’s lawyers met him and told the media that their client had sought some time to decide on his appeal for presidential mercy, the last resort. He finally decided not to seek presidential pardon, said junior state Minister Assaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
Family members of the Jamaat leader met him at the jail on April 6, and again on Saturday, hours before the execution.
Kamaruzzaman, a key organiser of the infamous al-Badr militia, had been in prison since July 2010.
War Crimes Tribunal convicted and sentenced him to death in May 2013, mainly on two charges that included the mass killing of 120 people in north-eastern Sherpur district. The Appellate Division upheld the sentence, describing his crimes as being “worse than the Nazis”. Chief Justice S.K. Sinha-led appellate court also rejected his plea for a review of the death penalty.