NEW DELHI â The Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday hanged two senior opposition leaders convicted of atrocities dating to Bangladeshâs 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.
Bangladeshâs 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.
âHe didnât apply for mercy,â the statement mentioned. âAnd he undoubtedly didnât admit guilt.â
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. Chowdhuryâs case, the court excluded witnesses who could have proved that âhis alibi was valid beyond a reasonable doubt,â 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. Hasinaâs 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 âto 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.â
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, âyou say I have killed two million.â
Stephen J. Rapp, a former American ambassador who led the State Departmentâs Workplace of Global Criminal Justice, called Mr. Chowdhuryâs prosecution âparticularly disturbingâ 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.
âFor such a method to stand the test of time,â it need to respect âthe highest legal standards,â Mr. Rapp stated in a statement released on Friday. âIt saddens me to say that I do not believe that was doneâ 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 countryâs 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 âa hundred percent injustice,â according to a reporter who was present. âForging an Islamic movement was my offense,â he said.