Dhaka: Notorious war criminal Jamaat-e-Islami leader Motiur Rahman Nizami has been hanged after completing all legal procedures for his crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 liberation war.
Nizami, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at Dhaka Central jail after the Supreme Court rejected his final plea against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide, rape and orchestrating the massacre of top intellectuals during the war.
Nizami, 73, a former legislator and minister, was hanged at 12.01 a.m. local time, Law Minister Anisul Haq told Reuters.
Thousands of extra police and border guards were deployed in Dhaka and other major cities to tighten security.
The controversial hanging of Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73-year-old leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, early on Wednesday local time comes at a time of growing insecurity in Bangladesh, where radical Islamists have recently assassinated secular bloggers, academics, gay people, members of religious minorities and others who they consider enemies of Islam.
The execution has also raised concerns of fresh political violence that could disrupt Bangladesh’s successful garment industry, which exported $26bn worth of apparel, mostly to western brands, last year.
Mr Nizami, a former government minister, was convicted in 2014 of war crimes for atrocities committed by al-Badra, a pro-Pakistani paramilitary organisation, allegedly under his command. The group was responsible for some of the worst brutality of the war, including the massacre of secular, pro-independence intellectuals and professionals.
Mr Nizami’s trial was held by Bangladesh’s domestic International Crimes Tribunal, established by Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, in 2009 to try those believed to be responsible for the worst atrocities of the secession struggle.
The failure to bring to account pro-Pakistan, Islamist-leaning politicians responsible for the horrific wartime human rights abuses has long been a point of resentment among Bangladesh’s secular nationalists, especially as many went on to successful careers in mainstream Bangladesh politics.
Mr Nizami served as a cabinet minister in a coalition government led by Ms Hasina’s bitter rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist party.
After returning to power in 2009, Ms Hasina vowed to bring war criminals to justice, which some said could have been an opportunity to “right a historical wrong”.