Bangladesh executes killer of country's independence leader

A 1972 file photo of Bangladesh Premier, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. (AP File Photo)

Authorities in Bangladesh have executed a killer of the country's independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, nearly 45 years after the brutal assassination, a prison official said.

Abdul Majed, a former military captain, was hanged at the central jail at Keraniganj near the capital, Dhaka, just one minute past April 11 midnight, said Inspector General of Prisons Brig. Gen. A.K.M. Mustafa Kamal Pasha.

He was arrested in Dhaka on April 7, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, adding that the arrest was "the biggest gift" for Bangladesh this year.

Majed had publicly announced his involvement in the assassination and had reportedly been hiding in India for many years. He recently returned to Bangladesh.

The execution took place after President M Abdul Hamid rejected a clemency filed by Majed, seeking mercy. His wife and other family members visited him for the last time on April 11.

Majed is one of a dozen defendants whose death sentences were upheld by the country's Supreme Court in 2009. A trial court in 1998 had sentenced them to death for their involvement in the Aug. 15, 1975, killing of Rahman and most of his family members by a group of army officials.

Rahman was the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana were the only survivors in the family, as they were visiting Germany during the assassination.

After the assassination, subsequent governments and later President Ziaur Rahman awarded the killers by posting them mostly in Bangladesh's diplomatic missions abroad. Majed was posted as Bangladesh's ambassador to Senegal in 1980.

Rahman an ex-army chief and the husband of former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, an archrival of Hasina was killed in a military coup in 1981. Ziaur Rahman and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were not related.

In 2010, five others who admitted to taking part in the assassination were hanged. One man died of natural causes in Zimbabwe. The other six convicts, including Majed, were at large. At least one of them is in Canada and another in the United States, officials say.

Bangladesh became independent in 1971 through a nine-month war against what was then West Pakistan, now Pakistan, under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

He was kept in jail in Pakistan during the war and was freed in 1972 amid a global outcry when he returned to newly born Bangladesh via London and India.


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