Bangladesh hangs Islamic party leader for 1971 war crimes

A senior Islamist party politician was hanged in Bangladesh for crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence against Pakistan, an official said.

The execution of Mir Quasem Ali, 64, a top leader of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, was carried out amid tight security Saturday, three days after the Supreme Court dismissed his plea for a review of his death sentence.

Jail officer Prashanta Kumar Bhoumik said Ali was hanged at Kashimpur jail in central Bangladesh.

Ali, also a business tycoon and financier of the party, was sentenced to death in November 2014 by a special tribunal set up to prosecute people who worked with the Pakistani military during the war.

Both the Pakistan army and its local agents were responsible for atrocities on unarmed civilians during the nine-month conflict in the then eastern wing of Pakistan.

The defendant received the death sentence for crimes including abduction, killing and dumping bodies of several people in a river in the south-east of the country.

He was also convicted of several other crimes against humanity that took place during the 1971 conflict.

An appeals court had earlier upheld his death penalty before Ali launched an appeal against that decision. He, however, decided not to seek presidential pardon, the last option in the Bangladeshi legal system.

Ali was one of the founders of the al-Badr force commissioned by the Pakistani military to carry out attacks on civilians during the war.

He had also been running a number of businesses, including banks, hospitals, shipping lines, a television channel, and charities funded by oil-rich Middle Eastern countries.

Members of Ali’s family met him for an hour before the execution at the prison.

Several hundred young people, who have long demanded trials for the war crimes suspects, celebrated the execution in central Dhaka. They paraded the streets at the Dhaka University campus carrying Bangladesh’s national flag.

Similar celebration was arranged in the south-eastern city of Chittagong, where Ali carried out wartime atrocities on the civilians.

The government beefed up security across Bangladesh apparently to prevent violence by activists from the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which earlier went on rampage when verdicts in war crimes cases were handed down.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the special war crimes tribunal in 2010 to prosecute local agents of the Pakistani army who were responsible for atrocities against unarmed civilians. 

Bangladesh estimates nearly 3 million people died and approximately 200,000 women were raped during the nine-month war, although independent researchers say the death toll was considerably lower.

An earlier initiative to prosecute the war crimes was called off after the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was Sheikh Hasina's father, in 1975. 

The Jamaat-e-Islami party, which opposed the creation of Bangladesh, has rejected the trials as politically motivated. 

In depth coverage

Bangladesh upholds death sentence for Islamic party leader

Bangladesh’s highest court on Tuesday rejected a final appeal by an Islamic party's leader against the death sentence he had been handed for crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan, officials said

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Last update: Tue, 30/08/2016 - 09:50
Last update: Sat, 03/09/2016 - 22:45
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