Bangla hangs Jamaat stalwart for war crimes

Jamaat-e-Islami leader and Bangladesh media tycoon, Mir Quasem Ali, was hanged tonight at the Kashimpur Central Jail on the outskirts of Dhaka.

  • Published 4.09.16
Jamaat-e-Islami leader and Bangladesh media tycoon Mir Quasem Ali

Dhaka, Sept. 3 (Agencies): Jamaat-e-Islami leader and Bangladesh media tycoon, Mir Quasem Ali, was hanged tonight at the Kashimpur Central Jail on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Ali, 63, is the 6th Islamist to be executed for war crimes committed during Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.

The media tycoon is widely considered as the top financier of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

"He was hanged at 10.35pm (local time)," the Bangladesh home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, said. Ali's execution came after he refused to seek presidential clemency yesterday.

Minutes after the hanging, a jail official came out and told reporters that doctors were carrying out an autopsy on Ali's body.

Prison officials had earlier said the Jamaat leader's body will be taken to his village home in northern Manikganj district for burial.

Hundreds of war veterans and campaigners rallied at Dhaka's Shahbagh Square and celebrated after news of Ali's execution was released. The Jamaat leader was the last of the high-profile suspects who were guilty of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.

The presidential clemency was the last resort for Ali, who was one of the main leaders of the Al-Badr militia, to escape execution after the Bangladesh Supreme Court rejected his final review petition on Tuesday.

Earlier, authorities had called Ali's family to the jail so that they could meet him for the last time to meet him.

The execution took place amid a spate of militant attacks, the most serious on July 1, when gunmen stormed a cafe in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter and killed 20 hostages, most of them foreigners.

The war crimes tribunal set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 has sparked violence and drawn criticism from Opposition politicians, who say it is targeting her political foes. The government denies the accusations.

Human rights groups say the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards, but the government rejects that assertion, and the trials are supported by many Bangladeshis.

Ali, who owned several business houses and media outlets including a now suspended TV channel, was a central executive council member of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He pumped billions into the party since the mid-1980s to put it on a firm financial footing in Bangladesh.

Ali was convicted of running Al Badr's torture cell that carried out killings of several people. Three million people were said to have been massacred in the war by the Pakistani army and their local collaborators.

Ali's hanging comes nearly four months after the Jamaat-e-Islami chief, Motiur Rahman Nizami, was executed.

With the execution, Ali became the sixth top leader to be hanged for the war crimes.

Thousands of extra police and border guards were deployed in Dhaka and other major cities. Previous convictions and executions have triggered violence that has killed about 200 people, most of them Islamist party activists, and police.

Since December 2013, five Jamaat leaders, including former top leader Motiur Rahman Nizami, and a leader of the main Opposition party, have been executed for war crimes.

Official figures show about three million people were killed and thousands of women were raped during the nine-month war, in which some factions, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, opposed the breakaway.

The party denies its leaders committed any atrocities.

Militant killed

The "second-in-command" of Bangladesh's homegrown extremist outfit, who trained the militants for carrying out the cafe siege, the country's worst terror attack, was killed in a raid on their hideout, police said.