UK & World News

  • 13 December 2013, 2:23

Top Islamist Leader Executed For War Crimes

Bangladesh has executed Islamist opposition leader Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes, in a move likely to provoke protests ahead of next month's elections.

The 65-year-old senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party was hanged in a Dhaka jail for massacres committed during the 1971 war of independence.

"It's an historic moment. Finally after four decades, the victims of the genocides of 1971 liberation war have got some justice," deputy law minister Quamrul Islam said.

The execution is expected to inflame tensions in Bangladesh after weeks of violence.

The hanging took place just hours after the Supreme Court dismissed Molla's appeal for a final review of his sentence, removing the last legal obstacle to his execution.

His wife and children were allowed a final meeting with him at the prison hours before the execution, and found him to be "calm".

"He told us that he is proud to be a martyr for the cause of the Islamic movement in the country,"Molla's son Hasan Jamil said after the meeting.

An ambulance entered thejail moments after the hanging amid loud cheers, while elite Rapid Action Battalion forces circled the jail compound to maintain order.

While there was no immediate violence at the prison, local media reported that Islamists and opposition protesters armed with crude bombs and rocks clashed with police in several cities shortly after the execution.

Security had already been tightened in anticipation of the execution, with authorities deploying heavily-armed paramilitary border guards in key areas.

Jamaat has called the execution a "political murder" and warned of exacting revenge for "every drop" of Molla's blood.

But in a sign of the sharp divide in Bangladesh, thousands of secular protesters erupted in celebration as news of the execution arrived.

Molla was one of five Islamists and other politicians sentenced to death by a domestic court known as the International Crimes Tribunal, which the opposition says is aimed at eradicating its leaders.

He was convicted of rape, murder and mass murder, including the killing of more than 350 unarmed civilians.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.