Gazipur – Mir Quasem Ali was hanged on Saturday night for crimes he had committed against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971. The was convicted for the crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) and the conviction confirmed by the Supreme Court.
After over four years of trial, the 63-year-old Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami central leader was executed at 10:30 pm, UNB news agency reported.
“Mir Quasem was hanged at 10:30 pm for his crimes against humanity,” Kasimpur Jail Super Prashanta Kumar Banik told reporters at the jail gate around 10:44 pm.
Inspector General of Prisons Brig Gen Syed Iftekhar Uddin told UNB that he was hanged around 10:35 pm. A team of hangmen carried out the execution.
Inspector General of Prisons Brig Gen Syed Iftekhar Uddin, Dhaka Range SM Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman, Kasimpur Jail Super Prashanta Kumar Banik, District Magistrate SM Alam, Civil Surgeon Ali Haider Khan and Police Super Harun-ur Rashid of Gazipur were present.
Jail sources said the body will be sent to his village home at Chala village in Harirampur upazila of Manikganj where he will be buried.
Earlier, Mir Quasem was given the final bath followed by an imam administering him ‘tawba’ (seeking pardon to the Almighty), an Islamic ritual, in line with the practice ahead of hanging.
Hours before the execution, his family members were allowed to meet him inside the central jail.
Thirty-eight family members of Mir Quasem coming in six vehicles reached the jail gate around 3.35pm. They spent one hour and 23 minutes with him and got out of it around 6:08 pm, the jail sources said.
Earlier, police cordoned off the area outside the Kashimpur Jail gate as journalists and onlookers gathered since afternoon as the jail authorities asked Quasem’s family members to meet him. Additional police and Rab members were seen patrolling the area.
Besides, the leave of all jail officials and employees was cancelled while the district administration issued a red alert in the district.
Meanwhile, six platoons of BGB members were deployed in Dhaka and four platoons in Gazipur to strengthen security before the execution.
With the latest execution, six war criminals have so far been executed, while two others – Jamaat leader Ghulam Azam and BNP leader Abdul Alim who had been sentenced to imprisonment unto death — died in jail.
Earlier, Jamaat leaders Abdul Quader Mollah, AHM Kamaruzzaman, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami were executed as they had been awarded death penalty for their crimes against humanity in 1971.
The countdown to Quasem’s execution began after the Supreme Court turned down his review petition on Tuesday.
Jail authorities on Friday started the process to execute the Supreme Court verdict against the Jamaat leader after he decided not to seek presidential mercy.
Earlier on Friday, the Mir Quasem, who was kept at Condemned Cell-40, informed his decision not to seek presidential clemency to the prison authorities.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death penalty for Quasem for his war crimes, turning down his appeal to review the death penalty.
On November 2, 2014, International Crimes Tribunal-2 handed down the capital punishment to Quasem over 1971 crimes against humanity. He was given death penalty on two charges, including killing seven people after abduction in Chittagong.
He was also awarded a total of 72-year imprisonment on eight other proven charges of abduction, conspiracy and planning.
As he challenged the verdict at the Supreme Court, it upheld his death sentence on one charge — the killing of young freedom fighter Jasim Uddin at Dalim Hotel — and jail terms on six other charges for his involvement in abduction, confinement and torture of freedom fighters and innocent people.
It, however, acquitted him of the other three charges, including a murder charge on which he was sentenced to death by the ICT-2.
On June 19, Quasem submitted his petition seeking a review of his capital punishment.
Quasem was born to Mir Tayeb Ali and Rabeya Begum in Manikganj on December 31, 1952.
He was made general secretary of East Pakistan Chhatra Sangha on November 6, 1971, and played a key role in forming infamous al-Badr force in Chittagong during the Liberation War.
He became Jamaat’s Shura member in 1985 and established himself as a top businessman in the country, becoming a supplier of funds to his party.
According to a defence petition filed on July 19, 2013, Quasem was the chairman of Keari Ltd, a real estate and tourism company, Diganta Media Corporation Ltd, which owns Bangla daily Naya Diganta, and now off-the-air Diganta TV, Agro Industrial Trust and Association of Multipurpose Welfare Agencies of Bangladesh, director of Ibn Sina Pharmaceutical Industries, and member secretary of Fouad Al-Khateeb Charity Foundation and Islami Bank Foundation, a sister concern of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd.
He had also held management posts in many other organisations that include Industrialists and Businessmen Welfare Foundation, Allama Iqbal Sangsad, Islamic University of Chittagong, Darul Ihsan University, Centre for Strategy and Peace Studies.
He was arrested on June 17, 2012, from the office of the Daily Naya Diganta and charges were framed against him on September 5, 2013.