DHAKA: Bangladesh has executed a former military captain for his involvement in the 1975 coup in which the country's founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated, nearly four-and-a-half decades after the massacre.
Abdul Majed was hanged at 12.01 AM (local time), Law Minister Anisul Huq told PTI.
An official of the Dhaka Central Jail at Keraniganj on the outskirts of the capital said that a doctor declared Majed dead at 12.15 AM.
Inspector General of Prisons Brigadier General AKM Mostafa Kamal Pasha at a media briefing in front of the jail said that the body would now be handed over to the family members for burial.
"Concerned officials who were required to witness the execution under law were present," he said, adding this was the first case of execution since the Dhaka Central Jail was relocated at the newly-built facility at Keraniganj two years ago.
Jailor Mahbubul Islam later said that the officials present included Dhaka's deputy commissioner who is the district magistrate as well, police superintendent and the civil surgeon and the deputy inspector general of prisons.
A number of people gathered in front of the jail at the midnight, defying COVID-19 restrictions.
He said that Mazed was executed by hanging.
Majed was arrested in Dhaka on Tuesday after hiding in India for nearly two-and-a-half decades.
On Friday, Majed's wife and four other relatives met him for nearly two hours in the prison.
President Abdul Hamid on Thursday rejected his mercy plea, removing the last hurdle for his hanging.
A specialised police unit arrested Majed, one of the fugitive convicted Bangabandhu assassins, as he returned home after hiding for nearly two and half decades in India.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the "self-confessed killer" was not only involved in Bangabandhu's assassination but also took part in the subsequent killing of four national leaders in high-security Dhaka Central Jail on November 3, 1975.
He said previous reports indicated Majed was hiding in India but eventually he was arrested from Dhaka as he secretly returned last month.
Police's Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit arrested him in a predawn raid at Mirpur area while he was roaming around a shrine.
Majed is one of the six absconding ex-army officers who were handed down capital punishment after trial in absentia.
A prosecution lawyer said Majed told the court that he returned to Bangladesh on March 15 or 16.
The convict, he said, claimed he managed to live secretly in Kolkata for the past 23 years.
Twelve ex-military officers were sentenced to death for the August 15, 1975 killing of Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members.
Five of them have been executed while one died of natural causes as he was on the run abroad.
Bangabandhu's elder daughter and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and younger daughter Sheikh Rehana survived as they were on a visit to the then West Germany at the time of the putsch, which also toppled Bangladesh's post-independence government.
The five convicts were hanged at Dhaka Central Jail on January 28, 2010, after a protracted legal procedure while the delayed trial process began in 1996 when an infamous indemnity law was scrapped as it was protecting the assassins from justice until then.
Majed was one of the remaining fugitives believed to be hiding abroad with no confirmed whereabouts.
The rest of the fugitives included the key mastermind of the coup ex-lieutenant colonel Abdur Rashid.
Interpol issued red alert against the absconders believed to be hiding in several countries including Pakistan.
Bangladesh confirmed two cases where two convicts took refuge in the United States and Canada, one of them is said to have shot dead Bangladesh's founder.
Dhaka said it was trying to extradite them but Canada declined to entertain the request citing provisions of the country's laws.
After the 1975 carnage, Majed was rehabilitated in civil service during the subsequent regime of former military-dictator-turned-politician Ziaur Rahman as an ex-cadre official and posted as the director of National Savings Department.
He later fled the country while serving in the finance ministry along with other 1975 coup plotters as the 1996 general elections brought Awami League back to power which vowed to expose to justice Bangabandhu killers in line with its election manifesto.