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Bangladesh Executes Leader of Islamist Party

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The head of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party was executed early Wednesday for his role in acts of genocide and war crimes during the country's independence war against Pakistan in 1971, a senior government official said.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hung at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday inside Dhaka central jail amid tight security.

Image: Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's biggest Islamic Political Party and an alliance of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, waves to his supporters during a rally in Dhaka
Motiur Rahman Nizami during a rally in Dhaka February 11, 2006. RAFIQUR RAHMAN / Reuters

Nizami had sought a review of his death sentence, but the country's Supreme Court upheld his punishment. Nizami was convicted of three major charges stemming from the 1971 war — including the killings of 480 people. He was also held responsible for the killings of dozens of intellectuals, including teachers, journalists and doctors, just two days before Bangladesh gained its independence in 1971.

Nizami is the fifth senior official from opposition parties to be executed since 2013 for war crimes carried out during the 1971 war. Three other senior members of Nizami's Jamaat-e-Islami party and a top leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia were also hanged.

Bangladeshi authorities say Pakistani soldiers aided by local collaborators killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women, and forced some 10 million people to flee the country during the nine-month war in what was then known as East Pakistan, renamed Bangladesh after independence.

Image: Motiur Rahman Nizami executied for alleged crimes against humanity in Bangladesh
Members of Ganajagoron Mancha hold a photo of the convicted Jamaat e Islam leader Motiur Rahman Nizami, in front of the centrl jail before the execution taking palce in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 10 May 2016. ABIR ABDULLAH / EPA