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Mujahid, SQ Chy executed

45Top Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were hanged early today for their crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 War of Liberation.
They were hanged together at the Dhaka Central Jail at 12:55am on Sunday, Inspector General (IG) of Police (Prisons) Brig Gen Syed Iftekhar Uddin told journalists at the jail gate shortly after the executions.
A team of hangmen, led by Raju Ahmed, executed Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s Secretary General Mujahid while another team, led by Shahjahan Bhuiyan, hanged BNP standing committee member SQ Chowdhury hours after President Abdul Hamid turned down the mercy petitions of the two war criminals.
Mujahid is the third Jamaat leader hanged after Quader Mollah and Kamaruzzaman while SQ Chowdhury is the first BNP leader and fourth in tally hanged for wartime offences.
Mujahid was the social welfare minister of the BNP-led four-party alliance government (2001-2006) while Chowdhury enjoyed the post of an adviser to then prime minister Khaleda Zia in the status of a full minister.
Mujahid walked gallows for abetting and facilitating mass murders including those of intellectuals, scientists, academics and journalists during the 1971 War of Liberation.
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was hanged for killing Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya owner and philanthropist Nutan Chandra Singha, murders of Nepal Chandra and three other Hindus at Sultanpur, leading the Pakistani troops to attack Unsattarpara in Raozan and killing around 70 people, and abducting and murdering Hathazari Awami League leader Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed and his son Sheikh Alamgir.
Under heavy security escort, two ambulances carrying the bodies of Mujahid and SQ Chowdhury left the central jail at 2:01am for Faridpur, the former’s village home, and for Chittagong, the latter’s ancestral home.
Jail sources said Mujahid will be buried in Faridpur while SQ Chowdhury in Chittagong.
The authorities earlier strengthened security measures across the country, particularly in and around the jail, to avert any untoward incident over the executions.
Leaders and activists of Ganajagaran Mancha and freedom fighters chanted slogans hailing the executions when the ambulances were leaving the jail compound. They also distributed sweets among them.
Earlier, the president turned down the mercy petitions, the last resort for the two convicted war criminals to save their lives, in consultation with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said official sources.
Families of both Mujahid and SQ Chowdhury, however, claimed that none of the executed duo sought presidential clemency.
Responding to the jail authorities’ calls, they also met Mujahid and SQ Chowdhury at the jail for the last time.
Eighteen members of SQ Chowdhury’s family, including his wife Farhat Quader and sons Fazlul Quader and Hummam Quader, went inside the jail around 9:40pm yesterday and stayed there for over an hour, while 25 members of Mujahid’s family met him, also for more than an hour, from around 11pm.
Earlier, the two death row convicts sought presidential clemency in the morning, Law Minister Anisul Huq told media yesterday evening. This is for the first time that war crimes convicts sought presidential clemency after receiving death sentences for wartime offences.
The law minister also said that he sent the petitions, along with his opinion, to President Abdul Hamid for his consideration.
“As per the Constitution, the President has to consult the prime minister before taking a decision on the ‘clemency petitions,” the minister told The Independent.
He also said that the mercy petitions were filed in line with the provisions under Article 49 of the Constitution, which allows the President to pardon a convict.
Earlier in the day, two executive magistrates from Dhaka District Administration—Ashraful Islam and Tanvir Ahmed—went to the Dhaka Jail to inquire whether the war crimes convicts would seek presidential clemency.
Soon after their return from the jail, the sources claimed that both convicts sought presidential clemency.
Later in the day, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that the mercy petitions reached his desk around 2:30pm.
He also said that the petitions, titled “Appeal for mercy”, were sent to the Law Ministry at around 5:00pm.
However, members of both families claimed that the reports of Mujahid and SQ Chowdhury seeking presidential clemency were not true.
While leaving the jail after meeting SQ Chowdhury, his son Hummam Quader Chowdhury said that his father told them that he did not file any mercy petition.
“Who says such rubbish? I didn’t file any mercy petition,” Hummam quoted his father as saying.
Expressing his reaction over media reports on his father clemency petition, he said earlier yesterday that they did not believe it.
Fazlul Quader Fayaz, another son of SQ Chowdhury, said, “We don’t believe that our father filed any petition seeking mercy.”
SQ Chowdhury’s family also tried to move a letter to President Abdul Hamid where they highlighted the international community’s ‘opinion’ on the trial of the BNP leader. But, they failed to meet the President yesterday evening and the Bangabhaban advised them to follow formal procedure to submit the letter to the President.
While leaving the jail after meeting Mujahid, his son Ali Ahmed Mabrur said, “My father didn’t file any mercy petition.”
Earlier in the day, the family members of Mujahid, at a press briefing at the Supreme Court auditorium, urged the President to halt Mujahid’s execution until disposal of the trial process in August 21 grenade attack case, wherein he is an accused.
“August 21 grenade attack case is now pending against my father. We want to fight a legal battle and want to win it. Hence, we have called upon the President to grant us the right to fight a legal battle until the end of the case,” Mabrur said.
At the briefing, Mujahid’s wife Tamanna-E-Jahan said, “Recording testimonies of witnesses in August 21 grenade attack case is now in the final stage. Mujahid has the right to continue the legal battle as a citizen of Bangladesh.”
However, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said a death-row convict can file only mercy petition before the President.
“If an accused in five cases is executed in a case, then the other cases against him/her will remain ineffective,” the chief law officer of the state said adding that their demand has no merit.
Earlier, on July 17, 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) sentenced Mujahid to death for abetting and facilitating mass murders including those of intellectuals, scientists, academics and journalists during the 1971 War of Liberation.
Later, Mujahid moved to the Appellate Division against the verdict, but the apex court, on June 16 this year, upheld the ICT’s verdict.
The ICT-1, on October 1, 2013, awarded Salauddin Quader Chowdhury capital punishment for killing Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya owner and philanthropist Nutan Chandra Singha, murders of Nepal Chandra and three other Hindus at Sultanpur, leading the Pakistani troops to attack Unsattarpara in Raozan and killing around 70 people, and abducting and murdering a Hathazari Awami League leader Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed and his son Sheikh Alamgir.
On October 29, 2013, Salauddin filed an appeal with the Appellate Division of the SC against the then ICT-1’s verdict. But, the apex court had on July 29 this year upheld the verdict of the then ICT-1.
On October 14 this year, both the convicts filed separate review petitions with the Supreme Court seeking reconsideration of their death penalties.
After hearing on the review petitions, the apex court had on November 18 cleared the decks for execution of war crimes’ convicts Mujahid and SQ Chowdhury after dismissing their petitions seeking reconsideration of their death penalties for wartime offences.
In a jam-packed courtroom, the four-member bench of Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha once again upheld the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) verdict awarding death sentences to the convicts for crimes against humanity committed during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.
The apex court on November 19, just a day after its dismissal order of the review petitions filed by Mujahid and SQ Chowdhury, released the full texts of its orders and the jail authorities executed the apex court verdicts in the hourly hour of today at 12.45am.