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Bangladesh to hang top Islamist for 1971 massacre

DHAKA: Bangladesh is set to hang a top Islamist leader Saturday for overseeing a massacre during the nation’s 1971 independence war, officials said, after he refused to seek clemency from the president.

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, the third most senior figure in the Islamist opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, is due to be executed on Saturday night after his hanging was postponed at the last minute.

No official reason was given for the delay on Friday, but junior home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the 62-year-old will soon be executed in the capital’s main jail.

“The hanging of Kamaruzzaman… will take place today (Saturday),” Khan said in remarks published by the mass circulation Bengali daily Prothom Alo.

Kamaruzzaman was convicted of abduction, torture and mass murder as one of the leaders of a pro-Pakistan militia that killed thousands of people during Bangladesh’s war of independence.

The United Nations on Wednesday urged Bangladesh against carrying out the sentence, saying his trial did not meet “fair international” standards.

But a police chief, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP by text message that the execution would go ahead at 10:01pm local time (1601 GMT).

Twenty-one members of Kamaruzzaman’s family, including his wife and son, visited him in prison on Saturday afternoon.

“The jail authorities asked the family to meet him. It’s an indication that he may be executed tonight,” his lawyer Shishir Manir told AFP.

Khan told reporters Kamaruzzaman had decided not to seek mercy from the president when two magistrates visited him in jail, and time for any more appeals had now run out.

“He did not want to file a mercy petition,” the junior minister told local online news portal.

The execution comes after the country’s highest court rejected Kamaruzzaman’s final legal appeal on Monday, upholding the original death sentence handed down to him by a controversial domestic war crimes court in May 2013.

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