Bangladesh Opposition leaders executed for war crimes
NEW DELHI (AP):
Bangladesh executed two opposition leaders yesterday for war crimes during the country's 1971 independence war, despite concerns that the legal proceedings against them were flawed and threats of violence by their supporters. A reporter was shot and wounded after covering the funeral of one of the men, though it was not clear who was responsible.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, secretary general of the main Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, were hanged at 12:55 a.m. at Dhaka Central Jail in the nation's capital, said Senior Jail Superintendent Mohammad Jahangir Kabir.
Chowdhury had been convicted on charges of torture, rape and genocide during Bangladesh's independence war against Pakistan, and Mujahid had been found guilty on charges of genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, torture and abduction.
While there has been international concern over the legal process that led to the executions of the two men, most leading Bangladeshi newspapers and TV stations supported the hangings.
Bangladesh was bracing for upheaval ahead of the hangings, with supporters of the two opposition leaders threatening violence if they were executed.
A few hours after the executions, a security detail escorted ambulances carrying the men's bodies to their ancestral homes, where their families were to perform burial rituals.
Rajib Sen, a reporter for the Mohona TV station, was on his way back from Chowdhury's funeral in Chittagong district when his car was sprayed with bullets, the station said. Three other journalists in the car escaped unhurt, and Sen was rushed to a hospital in Chittagong. The TV station is owned by a member of the ruling Awami League party.
Police would not provide any details on the shooting, and it was not immediately clear who attacked the car or why.
The Jamaat-e-Islami party, which had already had two other senior leaders executed for war crimes, issued a statement calling for a nationwide general strike on Monday.
Last Wednesday, Bangladesh's Supreme Court upheld the men's death sentences, and on Saturday, President Mohammad Abdul Hamid rejected a clemency appeal, clearing the way for the executions.