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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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