Bangladesh Hangs Islamist Leader Convicted for 1971 War Crimes

  • Nizami was a member of the cabinet from 2001 to 2006
  • The execution risks triggering political clashes in the nation

Bangladesh executed the top leader of the country’s biggest Islamic party days after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence for war crimes in the 1970s.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail, 10 minutes past midnight, Sheikh Maruf Hasan, additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told reporters on Wednesday. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity, including involvement in mass killings and rapes. Nizami led Jamaat-e-Islami and served as a cabinet member from 2001 to 2006.

The hanging risks triggering violence in a nation where political clashes have led to frequent disruptions for Bangladesh’s fast-growing garment exporters. Four of the five people executed since December 2013 for war crimes have been aligned with Jamaat-e-Islami and one with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the main opposition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.

Nizami masterminded the formation of a militia that tortured and killed unarmed civilians, raped women and destroyed properties during the 1971 war that led to a split from Pakistan and the creation of an independent Bangladesh, according to a court document.

One ambulance carried the body to the northwestern district of Pabna, Nizami’s birthplace, where Nizami will be buried, police commissioner Hasan said. Police have deployed additional security forces across the capital Dhaka and en route to Pabna, Hasan said.

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