Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Bangladesh Mujib killers to die 'by end of January'

Mujibur Rahman
Mr Rahman was the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

The Bangladeshi law minister has said that five ex-army officers convicted of killing the country's independence leader will be executed by Sunday.

Shafique Ahmed was speaking after the Supreme Court upheld death sentences against the five.

They killed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and family members in 1975.

He is the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who only escaped being killed herself because she was abroad at the time.

Six other men accused in the case are living abroad.

The trial began more than a decade ago and has generated tremendous interest.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said that the execution "will happen anytime by 31 January" after a meeting with the Dhaka Central Jail officials where the five are being held.

'Landmark verdict'

"The Supreme Court, headed by the country's chief justice, has dismissed their final appeals," news agency AFP quoted Syed Anisul Haque, chief counsel for the state, as saying.

"It is a landmark verdict and we think this will go a long way towards establishing the rule of law in the country," he said.

The five former army officers could be hanged "at any moment", Mr Haque added.

In addition Inspector-General of Prisons Syed Iftekheruddin said that the jail authorities "will decide on the date for the execution as soon as we receive a copy of the Supreme Court order".

Mr Rahman was killed in 1975, just four years after leading Bangladesh to independence from Pakistan.

The killers also murdered the president's wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law and approximately 20 other relatives and aides as part of a military coup.

March 1971: Sheikh Mujibur announces breakaway from East Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh
August 1975: Sheikh Mujibur is killed in a coup
November 1998: Dhaka court orders execution of 15 for his killing. Three later acquitted
Oct 2001: Trial halts after Khaleda Zia elected prime minister
August 2007: Sheikh Mujibur's murder case resumes
November 2009: Supreme Court rejects appeals by five ex-army officers accused of killing
January 2010: Supreme Court dismisses five ex-army officers' final appeals

The five men, who are in prison in the capital, Dhaka, did not deny their role in the death of Mr Rahman, but had said they should be tried in a military rather than a civilian court.

Six fellow plotters, on the run abroad, have also been sentenced to death. A seventh man also found guilty in absentia is thought to have died abroad.

The government the majors helped install passed a law indemnifying their actions and until 1998 they were free men.

But by then Sheikh Hasina had herself become prime minister and the accused were put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to death.

She lost the following elections, and the next government, led by the party which ultimately benefited from the coup, slowed the process down.

But Sheikh Hasina returned to power in 2009, and made the conclusion of the trial one of her top priorities.

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Economictimes Mujib's killers hanged - 52 mins ago
Times of India Bangladesh hangs ex-president Mujibur's killers - 2 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Bangladesh executes ex-president's killers - 6 hrs ago
Reuters UK Bangladesh executes killers of independence leader - 10 hrs ago
Bangkok Post Bangladesh upholds execution for ex-president's killers - 27 hrs ago

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