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Bangladesh hangs Jamaat chief for 1971 war crimes, nation on edge

Bangladesh hanged Islamist party leader Motiur Rahman Nizami on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday for genocide and other crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, the law minister said, a punishment that risked provoking an angry reaction from his supporters. Nizami, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at Dhaka Central jail after the Supreme Court rejected his final plea against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide, rape and orchestrating the massacre of top intellectuals during the war.

Nizami, 73, a former legislator and minister, was hanged at 12.01am local time, law minister Anisul Haq told Reuters. He had refused to seek presidential clemency.

A police officer who witnessed the hanging said that a civil surgeon declared him dead after the body was kept hanging for over 20 minutes.

Thousands of extra police and border guards were deployed in Dhaka and other major cities. Previous similar judgments and executions have triggered violence that kil led around 200 people, mainly Jamaat activists and police. Five opposition politicians, including four Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, have been executed since late 2013 after being convicted by the tribunal.

 

About 3 million people were killed, the government says, and thousands of women were raped during the 1971 war in which some factions, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, opposed the break from what was then called West Pakistan. The party denies that its leaders committed any atrocities. International human rights groups say the tribunal’s procedures fall short of international standards. The government denies the accusations. The execution comes as the nation suffers a surge in militant violence in which atheist bloggers, academics, minorities and foreigners have been killed.

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