Dhaka: Bangladesh executed two political leaders, convicted of war crimes during the country’s independence war in 1971, amid tight security early on Sunday.
Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunals had found the two guilty of collaborating with Pakistani forces and committing crimes, including mass killings.
The executions of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, were carried out at 12.55 AM, a news agency quoted Jahangir Kabir, jail superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail, as saying.
The two walked to the gallows together at Dhaka Central Jail amid tight security, Brigadier Gen. Syed Iftekhar Uddin, inspector general (prisons), told a news daily.
The execution took place hours after Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy pleas, clearing the way for their execution.
The family members of Mojaheed and Chowdhury, who met them at the jail for the last time before the executions, claimed they did not seek presidential mercy.
About two hours after executions, ambulances carrying the bodies left the jail for Mojaheed and Chowdhury’s ancestral homes.
Authorities have tightened security in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country in the wake of the executions.
Thousands of security personnel have been stationed at key state institutions.
A four-member bench of Bangladesh Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Wednesday had dismissed the review petitions of Mojaheed and Chowdhury.
Chowdhury was a leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is headed by ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia, a rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After returning to power in January 2009, Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan.
Both the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami party have dismissed the court as a government “show trial”, saying it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the UN.
Jamaat-e-Islami party has called for a strike on Monday.