International

Two top Bangladesh war criminals hanged

The two top Bangladesh war criminals –Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed – were hanged tonight for committing crimes against humanity during the country’s liberation war in 1971.

The executions took place at around 12:45 am tonight at the Dhaka Central Jail after their appeals, the last resort, seeking Presidential mercy were turned down by the head of the state following completion of all legal procedures.

Executed Mojaheed is the secretary general of Jamaat e Islami and was the commander of the Al Badr killing squad, an auxiliary force of the Pakistan army, which had annihilated scores of Bengali intellectuals in 1971.

Chowdhury, currently the presidium member of Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP), was convicted by the apex court for crimes against humanity as the key collaborator of Pakistan army, some 44 years ago.

Just before the execution, family members of the two convicts, who served as ministers and in various key positions during Gen H M Ershad and Khaleda Zia’s tenures, were allowed to meet them amid tightened security around the high security prison in Dhaka . The authorities have also deployed, hundreds of police, paramilitary Border Guards Bangladesh and elite RAB in hundreds in all major towns across the country to prevent possible violence by the supporters of the two widely known war criminals .

Earlier on Wednesday, a four member appellate division bench led by Chief Justice S K Sinha wrapped up the long judicial process which the Sheikh Hasina government had initiated in 2010, more then three decades after Bangladesh becomes an independent through a devastating war in 1971.

In October 2013, a war crimes tribunal found Chowdhury, 66, guilty of nine out of the 23 charges for crimes against humanity, including killing and torture of scores of pro-independence people in Chittagong, where he is known as a “terror”. The apex court on June 16 this year upheld the death penalty of Mojaheed,67, for planning and instigating the killing of secular intellectuals and professionals towards the end of the Bangladesh's Liberation War.

The two death row convicts have sought presidential clemency on Saturday as the last resort to safe their lives .

While the two were the first such convicts to seek presidential mercy, the other two – Abdul Quader Mollah and Kamaruzzaman -- executed earlier, had declined to do so. In seeking the Presidential clemency, they both have acknowledged the horrific crimes they perpetrated in 1971 to thwart Bangladesh’s independence as the cohorts of the Pakistan army.

The execution took place in the backdrop of a strong defence by Chowdhury’s party, BNP, led by Khaleda Zia, which claimed their leader was in Pakistan in 1971, hence did not get justice . Jamaat-e-Islami has claimed their leader did not seek presidential mercy.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 8:15:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/two-top-bangladesh-war-criminals-hanged/article7904194.ece

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