An Islamist politician convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan has been hanged at a prison in Dhaka.
Mohammad Kamaruzzaman of the Jamaat-e-Islami party was found guilty of genocide by a domestic war crimes tribunal in May 2013.
Kamaruzzaman, 62, was convicted of crimes including the killing of at least 120 unarmed farmers.
He had refused to seek clemency from Bangladesh’s president.
Kamaruzzaman was the third most senior figure in Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist opposition party.
He is the second war crimes suspect in Bangladesh to be executed.
In December 2013 Abdul Kader Mullah, assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami since 2010 and a former editor of an Islamist newspaper, was hanged after being found guilty on five of six counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Of the others who have been convicted:
- Former Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam died in custody in 2014
- Former Bangladesh Nationalist Party MP and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Motiur Rahman Nizami is awaiting the death sentence after being convicted in October 2014
- Former Jamaat-e-Islami MP Delwar Hossain Sayeedi has been sentenced to life in jail
- Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary-General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid was condemned to death in July 2013
- Former Bangladesh Nationalist Party minister, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury was sentenced to death in October 2013
Twenty-one members of the condemned man’s family, including his wife and son, visited him in prison on Saturday afternoon.
There was tight security outside the jail ahead of the condemned man’s execution, with large demonstrations and counter-demonstrations expected in support of and against the hanging.
Kamaruzzaman was the assistant secretary-general of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party. He was found guilty in May 2013 of masterminding what the prosecution described as one of the bloodiest single episodes in the independence war.
The war crimes tribunal heard that he played a prominent role alongside Pakistani troops in the “slaughter” of at least 120 unarmed farmers in the remote northern village of Sohagpur which subsequently became known as the “village of widows”.
Three women widowed as a result of the killings testified against Kamaruzzaman during his trial. They described how he led Pakistani troops to the village and helped the soldiers line up and execute the farmers.
Kamaruzzaman was found guilty on five out of seven charges of crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of unarmed civilians. His lawyers insisted that he had not received a fair trial.
Bangladesh independence war, 1971
Civil war erupts in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding autonomy and later independence
Fighting forces an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India
In December, India invades East Pakistan in support of the East Pakistani people
Pakistani army surrenders at Dhaka and its army of more than 90,000 become Indian prisoners of war
East Pakistan becomes the independent country of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971
Exact number of people killed is unclear – Bangladesh says it is three million but independent researchers say there were up to 500,000 fatalities
Court condemns Bangladesh Islamist
Bangladesh’s watershed war crimes moment