Dhaka, Nov 22: Two Bangladesh opposition leaders were executed in the early hours of Sunday for war crimes committed during the 1971 Independence struggle against Pakistan, the media reported. Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, 67, and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, 68, were hanged in Dhaka’s central jail, bdnews24 reported.(Read: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena thanks India for funding several projects)
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the executions of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid have established the fact that crimes do not go unpunished. “We’re relieved like the rest of the nation,” he said. Chowdhury, a minister in military dictator H.M. Ershad’s cabinet, was hanged for the genocide of Hindus and the murders of Awami League supporters. He was elected MP six times and was the senior-most leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to be sentenced for crimes against humanity.
On October 1, 2013, a special war crimes tribunal found him guilty of nine out of 23 charges including genocide, arson and persecuting people on religious and political grounds, and sentenced him to death. The prosecution said that his father’s residence in Chittagong was turned into a torture cell during the 1971 Liberation War.
Mujahid, a minister in former prime minister and BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s coalition cabinet and former commander of Al-Badr, a militia raised by Pakistan to crush the Bengali struggle for independence, planned and executed mass murders, including those of intellectuals, scientists, academics and journalists in 1971.
He was sentenced to death on July 17, 2013. Both Chowdhury and Mujahid had denied all the charges against them. The Supreme Court upheld their sentences earlier this month. President Abdul Hamid rejected appeals for clemency by the two men on Saturday night prior to their execution. With Sunday’s execution, Bangladesh has hanged a total of four war crimes convicts so far.
Jamaat-e-Islam leader Abdul Quader Molla was the first to walk to the gallows in December 2013 while another leader of the same party, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, was executed in April this year. Bangladesh’s government has reiterated that the war crimes trials are necessary to bring murderers to justice.