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Bangladesh Hangs 2 Leaders Convicted of War Crimes

NEW DELHI — The Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday hanged two senior opposition leaders convicted of atrocities dating to Bangladesh’s 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.

Violent protests have followed previous convictions and executions from the war crimes trials, and the authorities deployed heavy security and asked organizations adjacent to the Dhaka Central Jail to close their doors. Toward midnight on Saturday, an imam was noticed getting into the jail, and household members filed out following final meetings with the condemned males, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.

Each have been executed shortly right after midnight.

Bangladesh’s law minister, Anisul Huq, mentioned that the two men petitioned the president for clemency on Saturday and that the president had rejected the petition. In a short comment released by Human Rights Watch, however, relatives of Mr. Chowdhury said that was not correct.

“He didn’t apply for mercy,” the statement mentioned. “And he undoubtedly didn’t admit guilt.”

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The war crimes trials, which started in 2009, have widened fault lines dating to 1971 over regardless of whether Bangladesh should be a secular or Islamist country. They have unfolded against a background of rising extremist violence, with deadly attacks on secular intellectuals and religious minority groups becoming a lot more frequent more than the final year.

Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York, criticized the trials as biased toward the prosecution, noting that the defense was prevented from calling important witnesses to testify. In Mr. Chowdhury’s case, the court excluded witnesses who could have proved that “his alibi was valid beyond a reasonable doubt,” the group mentioned.

Mr. Chowdhury and Mr. Mojaheed had been leaders of parties opposed to the governing Awami League, which is led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. They had opposed the creation of an independent Bangladesh in 1971.

Mr. Chowdhury, 66, was an adviser to former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Ms. Hasina’s longtime political adversary and a member of the standing committee for the Bangladesh National Party.

In the course of the 1971 war, he was a student at Dhaka University. Prosecutors mentioned that his father had utilised the family residence in the coastal city of Chittagong as an interrogation center and that Mr. Chowdhury had tortured prisoners there.

A 3-judge tribunal found him guilty of nine of 23 charges, such as attempting “to wipe out the Hindu population as a religious group by launching a systematic attack on a large scale with the help of the Pakistan Army.”

Throughout the trial, which lasted for three years, Mr. Chowdhury insisted that he was innocent. He was caustic about the prosecution, remarking at a single point that of the three million people killed throughout the 1971 war, “you say I have killed two million.”

Stephen J. Rapp, a former American ambassador who led the State Department’s Workplace of Global Criminal Justice, called Mr. Chowdhury’s prosecution “particularly disturbing” simply because he was not permitted to contact witnesses who could testify that he left Bangladesh in March 1971, and was as a result not in the country at the time of the crimes he was accused of committing.

“For such a method to stand the test of time,” it need to respect “the highest legal standards,” Mr. Rapp stated in a statement released on Friday. “It saddens me to say that I do not believe that was done” in the circumstances of Mr. Chowdhury and Mr. Mojaheed.

Mr. Mojaheed served as minister of social welfare from 2001 to 2006, and he was secretary basic of the country’s major Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh.

He was convicted of 4 charges, such as organizing the murders of intellectuals and minority Hindus although he commanded Al Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistani Army.

After the judge pronounced the verdict, Mr. Mojaheed shouted from the dock that the selection was “a hundred percent injustice,” according to a reporter who was present. “Forging an Islamic movement was my offense,” he said.

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Bangladesh executes 2 opposition leaders despite concerns

NEW DELHI (AP) — Bangladesh executed two influential opposition leaders on charges of war crimes for the duration of the country’s 1971 independence war, a senior jail official mentioned Sunday, despite issues that the legal proceedings against them have been flawed and threats of violence by their supporters.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, secretary basic of the major Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, had been “hanged collectively, at the identical time” at 12:55 a.m. at Dhaka Central Jail in the nation’s capital, Senior Jail Superintendent Mohammad Jahangir Kabir told The Associated Press.

Security was strengthened near the jail and elsewhere to stay away from any violence. A handful of hours soon after the execution, a safety detail escorted ambulances carrying the men’s bodies to their ancestral homes exactly where their families were to perform burial rituals.

The Jamaat-e-Islami party, whose two other senior leaders currently have been executed on war crimes charges, issued a statement calling for a nationwide basic strike on Monday.

Chowdhury was convicted on of charges of torture, rape and genocide during the country’s independence war against Pakistan, even though Mujahid was discovered guilty on charges of genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, torture and abduction.

On Wednesday, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court upheld their death sentences, and on Saturday, President Mohammad Abdul Hamid rejected a clemency appeal, clearing the way for the executions. The households of Chowdhury and Mujahid met them for the last time inside Dhaka Central Jail on Saturday evening, authorities mentioned.

Jamaat-e-Islami and the Bangladesh Nationalist Celebration say the trials were politically motivated. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has denied the allegations. She has acknowledged that she faced international stress for attempting opposition figures for war crimes, but vowed to continue the trials “to make sure justice for the households of the slain people” from the 1971 war.

More than 15 individuals, largely leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, have been convicted of war crimes.

The celebration had campaigned openly against independence for Bangladesh, which was element of Pakistan till the 1971 war. The Bangladesh government says that Pakistani soldiers, aided by neighborhood collaborators, killed three million individuals and raped 200,000 females during the war.

Mujahid, 67, was the head of Islami Chhatra Sangha, then the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami . He was accused of being the mastermind behind the killing of intellectuals, like teachers and journalists, days before the Pakistani military surrendered to a joint force of freedom fighters and Indian army units on Dec. 16, 1971, right after a bloody nine-month war.

Chowdhury, 66, whose father was the speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly and at instances, the acting president of Pakistan, also actively opposed Bangladeshi independence. He was accused of carrying out war crimes, which includes killing a lot more than 200 civilians, mostly minority Hindus, during the independence war, according to evidence presented at the tribunal.

U.S. lawmakers overseeing foreign policy described the war crimes tribunal, set up in 2013, as “quite flawed” and a implies of political retribution. The State Division said Friday that executions ought to not take location till it really is clear the trial procedure meets international standards.

Stephen Rapp, who till August served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador for war crimes, mentioned it was “disturbing” that Chowdhury was denied the proper to call alibi witnesses, like a former U.S. ambassador, to provide testimony that he was not present in Bangladesh at the time the alleged crimes were committed.

Human Rights Watch stated the tribunal permitted the prosecution to contact 41 witnesses, while Chowdhury’s defense was limited to 4 witnesses. The New York-primarily based group mentioned Mujahid was sentenced to death for instigating his subordinates to commit abuses, though no subordinates testified or were identified.

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