BANGLADESH: EXECUTIONER WHO HANGED 26 CONVICTS WALKS OUT OF PRISON
June 19, 2023:
A jailed Bangladeshi hangman who executed more than two dozen fellow prisoners including killers and coup plotters in exchange for sentence reductions was released on June 18, 2023, officials said. (Source: AFP, 19/06/2023)
Shahjahan Bhuiyan gained notoriety for putting 26 people to death during his time inside after he highlighted to officials his skills with a noose upon entering prison 32 years ago for murder.
His executions included military officers found guilty of plotting a 1975 coup and of killing the country’s founding leader, who is the father of current prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
“His jail sentence was reduced for hangings he carried out,” said Tania Zaman, deputy chief of Dhaka Central Jail, adding his executions numbered 26 while incarcerated.
Among those he hanged were top Islamist leader Ali Ahsan Mujahid and opposition stalwart Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury after both were charged with war crimes, according to another jail official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In 2007 he also hanged Siddique Islam, alias Bangla Bhai, an Islamist leader of the outlawed Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, which led a nationwide bombing campaign two years earlier, the official added.
The 74-year-old defended his acts, saying it helped him cut his sentence.
“If I didn’t hang them, someone else will do it,” Bhuiyan said. “Even if I feel sympathetic towards him, as a convict, I am bound to do it.”
Bangladesh inherited capital punishment from its British colonial rulers, and has executed nearly 500 people since independence from Pakistan in 1971.
Human rights groups say more than 2,000 prisoners are on death row in the country, including hundreds of Islamist extremists and border guard mutineers convicted of murdering senior military officers.
The nation is one of a handful that still carry out death sentences by hanging.
All of Bangladesh’s executioners are, like Bhuiyan, long-serving prisoners who have been selected and trained.
Bhuiyan was first drafted in to execute Ershad Sikder in 2007, a mass murderer accused of killing 24 people.
“No matter what crime a person does, when he is in front of death, you’ll feel some sympathy for him,” the lifelong bachelor told reporters.
“I served a prison term for a long time … The authorities ensured my comfort and honoured me,” Bhuiyan added. “I had a good time.”