Human-rights groups criticized Motiur Rahman Nizami’s conviction

DHAKA, (Bangladesh) — Bangladesh has executed a top leader of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami party, Motiur Rahman Nizami, for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. The conviction that has been criticized by international human-rights groups.

“Motiur Rahman has been hanged to death at 12:10 a.m. (Wednesday),” Jahangir Kabir, Superintendent of the Dhaka Central Jail said.

The law and justice minister, Anisul Huq, said the 73-year-old leader was hanged after he refused to seek mercy from the country’s president.

Nizami led Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami. Previous executions of party leaders have sparked violent protests. Last week Nizami lost his final appeal against the sentence.

He was convicted of genocide, rape and torture, charges the defence said were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Nizami is the fifth person to be sentenced to death by the war crimes tribunal since 2013, and the fourth executed Jamaat leader following Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Abdul Quader Molla, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, who were all executed on similar charges.

“We’ve been waiting for this day,” said the home affairs minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, adding that people “will remember this day for ever”.

Hours before the hanging, members of Nizami’s family met him for the last time at the Dhaka central jail, as hundreds of police and security forces cordoned off the British colonial-era prison.

Jamaat-e-Islami strongly opposed the breaking away from Pakistan and the party was banned shortly after Bangladesh gained independence. The group then reentered politics for several years before being declared illegal again in 2013.

Dhaka remained tense on Tuesday night, with heavily armed police and other security forces patrolling the streets.

The Jamaat-e-Islami—the country’s largest Islamist party and an ally of the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party—has branded Mr. Nizami’s execution a “political killing” and called for protests and prayers.

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”.

Country’s human rights groups say the Bangladesh tribunal’s process has fallen far short of credible and fair justice, appearing mainly to serve as a method of railroading suspects to the gallows.