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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 19:48 GMT 20:48 UK
Bangladesh serial killer hanged
By Waliur Rahman
BBC correspondent in Khulna

One of the most notorious serial killers in Bangladeshi history has been hanged, and his body will soon be handed over to his family.

Ershad Sikder was an influential political figure in the south-western city of Khulna before his arrest five years ago on a murder case.

He was also accused in more than 30 other criminal cases mostly for killing political or business rivals.

He was a member of both main political parties throughout his criminal career.

Criminal muscle

Ershad Sikder's rise from poor labourer to rich man in Khulna symbolises the dreadful state of Bangladeshi politics.

According to the court records, he amassed thousands of dollars by criminal muscle power, and then used that money to buy political influence.

He first joined the Jatiya Party of former military ruler Hussein Muhammad Ershad and became a council member of the Khulna City Corporation in late 1980s.

After democracy was restored in early 1990s, Ershad Sikder joined the then governing party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

But he swapped sides and joined the Awami League when it came to power a few years afterwards.

Residents of Khulna say his lavishly decorated home in the city and his business establishments were frequented by the leaders of all major political parties.

The politicians liked him more because he had a sizable private force, equipped with illegal weapons.

But his political mentors in the Awami League refused to back him when he killed one of their own men, Khalid Hossain, following his arrest five years ago.

Sikder's own bodyguard also betrayed him and gave a vivid description to the trial court of the gruesome way in which he killed the young political activist.

A witness to the murder told the BBC that he beat Khalid Hossain mercilessly, and at one point jumped on his chest, breaking all his bones.

His bodyguard also testified that Sikder was responsible for more than 20 other murders.

Ershad Sikder was convicted by the trial court in six other murder cases and his appeals against the verdicts were pending before the higher court.

However his death penalty in the Khalid murder case was confirmed by the country's Supreme Court.

The Bangladeshi president refused to entertain his mercy petition in the Khalid murder case, clearing the way for his hanging.

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