News / Asia

Bangladesh Executes Killers of Independence Leader

Five former army officers convicted of killing Bangladesh's founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, have been hanged. They were executed nearly 35 years after he was assassinated, in an army coup.

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Five former army officers convicted of killing Bangladesh's founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, have been hanged. They were executed nearly 35 years after he was assassinated, in an army coup.  

The five men were executed in the early hours of Thursday in Dhaka Central jail, as hundreds of police and security forces stood guard outside.

Roads outside the prison were closed to traffic. The executions took place the night after the Supreme Court dismissed their appeals for a review of the death sentence.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was gunned down, along with several members of his family, in an army coup in 1975 - four years after Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan.  Mr. Rahman, who led the country's freedom struggle, was its first president. 

The five men executed did not deny their role in his death, but were given immunity for two decades by subsequent governments which benefited from the coup.

Their trial only began in 1996, after their immunity was revoked by a government led by the assassinated leader's daughter, Sheikh Hasina.

The chief state attorney, Mahbubey Alam, says the executions have finally pulled the curtains down on one of history's most gruesome killings.

Dozens of supporters of the ruling Awami League party - which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman helped found - held placards in Dhaka saying "Justice at Last."

A top leader of the Awami league party, Abdul Jalil, says the executions show that nobody can escape the law.

"Maybe it is delayed, but any person committing crime in the society of Bangladesh will be found out and will be brought to justice," he said.

The five men were sentenced to death in 1998. But various appeals delayed the death sentence. However, Sheikh Hasina vowed to complete the trial when she returned as the country's prime minister, last year. 

Bangladesh's short history has been marred with political violence, deep political rivalry between its main parties and spells of rule by army generals during which democracy has been suspended. The present government, led by Sheikh Hasina, came to power after the country was under an emergency administration for almost two years.    

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