Mohammad Qamaruzzaman was convicted of crimes against humanity
(DHAKA, Bangladesh)—Authorities in Bangladesh on Saturday executed a senior Islamist party official convicted of crimes against humanity during the country’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan, two officials and TV stations said.
One prison official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, told The Associated Press that Mohammad Qamaruzzaman was put to death by hanging Saturday night inside the central jail in the capital, Dhaka.
A police official who was present during the execution inside the jail confirmed that Qamaruzzman was hanged.
There was no official announcement regarding carrying out the sentence against Qamaruzzman.
Popular channel, Somoy TV, reported that Qamaruzzman was hanged after performing all legal and religious procedures. Channel 24 said Qamaruzzman’s body would be taken for burial to his ancestral home in the Sherpur district in central Bangladesh.
Prosecutors say Qamaruzzaman, an assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, headed a militia group that collaborated with the Pakistani army in central Bangladesh in 1971 and was behind the killings of at least 120 unarmed farmers.
Bangladesh blames Pakistani soldiers and local collaborators for the deaths of 3 million people during the nine-month war seeking independence from Pakistan. An estimated 200,000 women were raped and about 10 million people were forced to take shelter in refugee camps in neighboring India.
The execution took place after Qamaruzzaman refused to seek presidential clemency, paving the way for him to become the second person put to death since tribunals were set up more than four years ago to try suspected war criminals.
Earlier Saturday Junior Home Minister Asaduzzman Khan told reporters that Qamaruzzaman’s execution would proceed because he did not seek clemency.
Authorities heightened security in the capital and elsewhere ahead of Saturday’s execution.
Members of Qamaruzzaman’s family visited him in the afternoon for the last time in Dhaka’s central Jail, his lawyer Shishir Manir said.
On Monday, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court rejected Qamaruzzaman’s final legal appeal against the death sentence given to him by a special tribunal in May 2013. His only recourse would have been to seek a presidential pardon.
Bangladesh executed another Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary, Abdul Quader Mollah, in December 2013 for similar crimes.
Previous war crimes verdicts and Mollah’s execution have sparked violence.
Since 2010, two tribunals have convicted more than a dozen people, mostly senior leaders of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, which had openly campaigned against independence. Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest political party, says the trials are politically motivated.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunals in 2010, reviving a stalled process and making good on a pledge she made before 2008 elections.
There was a process of trying suspected war criminals after Bangladesh gained independence, but it was halted following the assassination of then-President and independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — Hasina’s father — and most of his family members in a 1975 military coup.