Bangladesh Islamist Abdul Kader Mullah buried after execution

Ambulances escorted by the Bangladesh border guard carry the body  of Mullah  in Dhaka  on December 12, 2013 Mullah's body was taken by ambulance to his home town in Faridpur

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The Bangladesh Islamist leader executed on Thursday after his conviction for crimes during the 1971 war of independence has been buried.

Abdul Kader Mullah's funeral took place in his home town of Faridpur in the early hours of Friday morning and was attended by hundreds of mourners.

Although security is tight, two people died amid sporadic violence on Friday.

He was the first person convicted by Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) to be executed.

Analysis

The government has clearly taken a calculated risk in carrying out the sentence at a time when the country is already in the grip of nearly a month-long opposition strike.

A few weeks earlier, Jamaat leaders said they would ''set the country ablaze'' if Mullah was executed.

During the past few days, thousands of mobile phone users received messages from an unidentified number, warning it would lead to civil war.

The government of Sheikh Hasina had also come under pressure not to carry out the death sentence from the UK, US, the EU and the UN's human rights body. They worry that the hanging could derail delicate negotiations over upcoming general elections scheduled for 5 January.

The ICT was set up in 2010 to investigate abuses committed during the 1971 conflict but human rights groups have also expressed concern that the court falls short of international standards.

Mullah was buried at the family graveyard at Amirabad village before dawn on Friday after funeral prayers, local media reported. Hundreds of people were in attendance, reports say.

A senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, he was described by prosecutors at his trial as the "Butcher of Mirpur", a suburb of Dhaka where he is alleged to have carried out his crimes.

These included the massacre of unarmed civilians and the killing of intellectuals who supported independence from Pakistan. Mullah always denied the charges

BBC Bengali editor Sabir Mustafa says the hanging marks a watershed in the country's short but often bloody history. This is the first time a senior politician has been tried in a civil court and hanged for offences committed in 1971.

Fears of violence

There have been fears that the execution could spark violence in a country already deeply divided and building up to controversial elections scheduled for 5 January.

Several people have died in violent protests in Bangladesh

Hundreds of people gathered in central Dhaka to celebrate the news of his death on Thursday but Jamaat-e-Islami - which has warned it will avenge his death - called for a general strike on Sunday.

Bangladesh independence war, 1971

Soldier
  • Civil war erupts in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding autonomy and later independence
  • Fighting forces an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India
  • In December, India invades East Pakistan in support of the East Pakistani people
  • Pakistani army surrenders at Dhaka and its army of more than 90,000 become Indian prisoners of war
  • East Pakistan becomes the independent country of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971
  • The war was devastating in its brutality but there are a range of estimates for the exact number of people killed - government figures estimate as many as three million died. Other studies suggest 300-500,000 perished.

Security is tight, particularly in the capital, but on Friday at least two people were killed in Khulna, reports say, and skirmishes were reported in other areas.

Activists for the Jamaat-e-Islami party are also said to have firebombed train stations and set fire to shops, police quoted by the AFP news agency said.

At least three people are reported to have died in clashes on Thursday.

The execution of Abdul Kader Mullah took place at Dhaka Central Jail at 22:01 local time (16:01 GMT) on Thursday evening, officials announced.

His family were allowed a final meeting with the 65-year-old and found him "calm".

"He told us that he is proud to be a martyr for the cause of the Islamic movement in the country," his son, Hasan Jamil, told the AFP after the meeting.

Four other leading figures in Jamaat-e-Islami have also been convicted by the ICT and face the death penalty.

Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan 42 years ago after a war which saw killings on a mass scale, the exodus of more than 10 million refugees and military intervention by neighbouring India.

Relatives of Islamist leader Abdul Kader Mullah sit in a vehicle leaving Dhaka Central Jail (December 12, 2013) Relatives of Mullah visited the jail on Thursday evening. He told them he was proud to be a "martyr" for his cause
People celebrate after hearing the news of Bangladesh Jamaat-E-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah"s execution in Dhaka December 12, 2013. News of his execution was met with celebration in some quarters, such as supporters of the governing Awami League party

The government set up the special court to deal with those accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces who attempted to stop East Pakistan, as Bangladesh was then, from becoming an independent country. The two wings of Pakistan were held together mostly by a shared religion.

While many Bangladeshis have welcomed the work of the ICT, Jamaat supporters say it is a politically-motivated attempt to eradicate its leaders.

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