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Bangladesh hangs Nizami for war crimes

Bangladesh hanged the Islamist party leader for genocide and other crimes committed during a 1971 war of independence from Pakistan

Published: Updated:

Bangladesh hanged an Islamist party leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, on Wednesday for genocide and other crimes committed during a 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, drawing an angry reaction and some scattered violence from supporters.

Nizami, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was executed at Dhaka Central jail just after midnight 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 intellectuals during the war.

Nizami, 73, a former legislator and minister during opposition leader Khaleda Zia's last term as prime minister, was sentenced to death in 2014.

Five opposition politicians, including four Jamaat leaders, have been executed since late 2013 after being convicted by the war crimes tribunal, which was set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010.

International human rights groups say the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards but the government rejects that and the trials are supported by many Bangladeshis.

Hundreds of people flooded the streets of the capital to cheer the execution.

"We have waited for this day for a long 45 years," said war veteran Akram Hossain. "Justice has finally been served."

Opposition politicians, including leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, say the tribunal is victimizing Hasina's political opponents.

Thousands of extra police and border guards were deployed in Dhaka and other major cities. Previous convictions and executions have triggered violence that killed about 200 people, most of them Islamist party activists and police.

On Wednesday, as Nizami was buried in his ancestral home in the northwest, about 300 supporters gathered at Dhaka's main mosque to offer prayers in his memory.

Later, they streamed out of the mosque, shouting slogans and vowing not to let Nizami's death be in vain. But they quickly dispersed, watched by armed policemen.