Dhaka: Top Jamaat-e-Islami stalwart Muhammad Quamaruzzaman was hanged tonight for committing atrocities and mass killing during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war against Pakistan, the second leader from the fundamentalist Islamist party to be executed for war crimes.
He was hanged at 10:01 PM local time, jail officials said. Inspector General of Prisons Syed Iftekhar Uddin told reporters outside the prison that the entire process of keeping the noose around his neck was completed around 10:30 PM.
Quamaruzzaman, the Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general and the third most influential leader in the Islamist party, was hanged late in the night after his execution was postponed at the last minute yesterday.
He is the second Jamaat leader after Abdul Quader Mollah, known as the butcher of Mirpur, was executed on December 12, 2013, for 1971 war crimes.
An official familiar with the process said the chief hangman hanged him after a magistrate signalled him.
Three hangmen carried out the entire execution process at one minute past 10 with 12 jail guards, Dhaka's civil surgeon, district magistrate and senior prison officials, who are all required to witness the hanging, being present at the time.
TV footages showed that a police ambulance entered the jail complex apparently to carry Quamaruzzaman's body out with some reports saying that he could be buried at his village home in northern Sherpur district.
Authorities earlier enforced tight security around the Dhaka Central Jail, allowing only reporters near the prison.
The elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) took position around the jail complex in old part of Dhaka, asking the street side shop-keepers to close for the night.
The execution was carried out hours after close relatives of Quamaruzzaman met him for the last time for nearly an hour.
Prison officials earlier said they received a government "executive order" to hang him this afternoon and it was "read out to the death row convict".
People gathered at Shahbagh intersection burst into celebrations at the execution, shouting slogans and saying justice has finally been delivered.
Quamaruzzaman had decided not to seek presidential clemency after the review of his conviction was rejected on April 6 by a four-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha.
After his appeal was rejected, violence broke out between Jamaat activists and police in which a protester was killed.
Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in May 2013 sentenced Quamaruzzaman to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war.
Quamaruzzaman was found guilty of mass killing, murder, abduction, torture, rape, persecution and abetment of torture in central Mymensingh region. He was convicted for killing 164 people at a village in his home district in northern Sherpur.
The village was later renamed as "Bidhoba Palli" or "village of widows" as virtually all adult married men were killed by the infamous Al-Badr militia forces which he led during the war time.
The Supreme Court on November 3 last year upheld his death penalty. The apex court, however, issued the full text of the judgement on February 18 and sent it to the ICT, which immediately issued a death warrant.
The apex court called his crimes "worse than Nazis" when it upheld the judgement of the ICT.
The Ganojagaron Mancha, a platform of youngsters, which was spearheading the campaign for maximum punishment of the 1971 war criminals, staged a vigil welcoming the execution of Quamaruzzaman.
About three million people were killed by the Pakistani army and their Bengali-speaking collaborators during the war.