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Bangladesh executes two senior opposition leaders

22nd Nov 2015
Bangladesh executes two senior opposition leaders

By Mainul Islam Khan

 

DHAKA, (AA) – Bangladesh on Sunday hanged two well-known opposition figures convicted of war crimes during the country’s war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, depsite concerns that the legal proceedings against them were flawed.

Bangladesh Jamaat e Islami’s Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s high-ranking member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were executed shortly after President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy petitions.

A jail superintendent told reporters that both executions took place simultaneously at 12:55 am local time (1855 GMT) at Dhaka central jail.

This is the first time in Bangladesh’s history that two convicts are executed at the same time.

Both Mujahid and Chowdhury had denied the charges leveled against them.

Security was tightened across the capital Dhaka and around the central jail ahead of the executions.

Family members of both men met them hours before the death sentences were carried out.

Mujahid was a senior leader of Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party and Chowdhury had been elected a member of parliament six times.

Bangladesh’s opposition parties and international organizations such as Human Rights Watch have expressed concerns about the accused not receiving a fair trial.

U.S. lawmakers overseeing foreign policy described the war crimes tribunal, set up in 2013, as “very flawed” and a means of political retribution. The State Department said Friday that executions should not take place until it’s clear the trial process meets international standards.

Stephen Rapp, who until August served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador for war crimes, said it was “disturbing” that Chowdhury was denied the right to call alibi witnesses, including a former U.S. ambassador, to provide testimony that he was not present in Bangladesh at the time the alleged crimes were committed.

Bangladesh has accused the Pakistani army and its local collaborators of killing up to three million people during the 1971 war, as well as decimating entire villages and raping thousands of women.

Additional reporting from AP
[Photo: People gather as they wait the Ambulances, carrying dead bodies of BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary General Ali Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, in front of he jail in Dhaka, Bangladesh on November 22, 2015. Photographer: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/AA]

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