09:24, April 07 257 0 theguardian.com

2020-04-07 09:24:04
Killer of Bangladesh independence leader arrested after 45 years on run

Police in Bangladesh have arrested a fugitive killer of the country’s independence leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, nearly 45 years after the sheikh’s brutal assassination, the country’s home minister said.

Abdul Majed, a former military captain, was arrested in the capital, Dhaka, the home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, said, adding that the arrest was “the biggest gift” for Bangladesh this year.

Majed had publicly announced his involvement in the assassination after the killing, and had reportedly been hiding in India for many years. It was not clear when or how he returned to Bangladesh.

He is one of a dozen defendants whose death sentences were upheld by the country’s supreme court in 2009. In 1998, a trial court had sentenced the group of army officials to death for their involvement in the killing of Sheikh Mujib and most of his family.

Mujib is the father of the current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, who, with her younger sister Sheikh Rehana Siddiq, was visiting Germany during the the assassination. The sisters were the only survivors in the family.

After the assassination subsequent governments, including that of Ziaur Rahman, president from 1977-1981, awarded the killers by posting them to diplomatic missions abroad. Rahman, an ex-army chief and the husband of Khaleda Zia, an arch-rival of Hasina’s who served two periods as prime minister, was killed in a military coup in 1981. Ziaur Rahman and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were not related.

In 2010 five men who admitted to taking part in the sheikh’s assassination were hanged. Another man died of natural causes in Zimbabwe, leaving six other convicts, including Majed, at large. At least one is in Canada and another in the US, officials say.

Majed was arrested on Tuesday; the date for his execution has not yet been announced.

Bangladesh became independent in 1971 after a nine-month war against what was then West Pakistan, now Pakistan. Mujib became the first prime minister in January 1972 after being freed by Pakistan, where he had spent the war.