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Mujib's Assassins Hanged 30 Years After His Killing

PTI 28 Jan 2010, 14:36:09 PM IST

Bangladesh executed five former military officers Thursday for their role in the 1975 massacre of the country's independence leader and several of his relatives and aides at a Dhaka home during a coup, authorities said.

The five men, who were all at least in their 60s, had been convicted in 1998 of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's slaying and had final appeals of their sentences rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Government officials said the hangings would deter further military takeovers in a country that has seen about two dozen coups or coup attempts since 1971.

"Through this, a black chapter of the history has ended," chief government lawyer Anisul Haq said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of the independence hero, was accompanied by several Cabinet ministers at her Dhaka home overnight and she later issued a statement asking the people of Bangladesh to show restraint after the executions.

The men were hanged early Thursday inside Dhaka Central Jail, prison official Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ashraful Islam Khan said.

The men were allowed to meet with family members inside the jail amid tight security ahead of their hangings, which took place one after another and lasted about 30 minutes, private TV station ATN Bangla said.

The bodies of Syed Faruk Rahman, Mohiuddin Ahmed, Bazlul Huda, A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed and Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan were later escorted by police convoys to their ancestral homes across the country for burial, said Golam Haider, the deputy prison chief.

Rahman had led Bangladesh in its war to become independent from Pakistan in 1971 and went on to become the new country's first leader. But he was targeted in the Aug. 15, 1975 military coup, which culminated in the slayings of Rahman and 16 other people at his Dhaka residence.

The coup leaders were given indemnity by subsequent military rulers, and they were put on trial only once Hasina became prime minister in 1996. Hasina and her younger sister, Rehana, survived the coup because they were touring Europe at the time.

In 1998, a Dhaka court sentenced the five ex-soldiers to death in Rahman's killing. Their plea to commute the penalty was rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, clearing the way for their execution, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed told reporters.

Six others who were also convicted are fugitives abroad, government attorney Mahbube Alam said. Another convicted man died in exile in Libya, he said.

Two of the five ex-army officers, who were executed were buried on Thursday at their ancestral villages.  Ex-lieutenant colonels Shahriar Rashid Khan and Syed Farooq Rahman, were buried  at their ancestral villages in Brahmanbari and Naogaon.

Shahriar's son Ashraf Rahman Khan received his father's body at about 6:30 a.m local time. Later, he was buried at his family graveyard at Gopinathpur around 7:30 a.m.

Farooq's body was received by his cousin Dewan Asadur Rahman Mithu after it reached at Naogaon around 8:45 a.m. His burial took place at his village at Marma Mallikpur in Naogaon district around 10:00 a.m. after the funeral prayer.

Meanwhile, the body of another convict ex-major Bazlul Huda arrived at his home village in Alamdanga of Chuadanga district. Huda's younger brother Nurul Huda received the body. 

The bodies of AKM Mohiuddin and Mohiuddin Ahmed were on the way to their native villages at Rangabali in Galachipa upazila of Patuakhali district and Barabaishdiya union in Kalapara of the district respectively.

The five condemned killers were hanged early Thursday at Dhaka Central Jail amid tight security.  Earlier, five ambulances were brought in to the Dhaka Central Jail to collect the bodies after the executions and take those to their respective villages. The ambulances were escorted by Rapid Action Battalion and police.