Bangladeshi counter terrorism authorities arrested Abdul Majed in Dhaka on Tuesday. Majed faces the death penalty for the 1975 assassinations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family.
Rahman played a significant role in Bangladesh’s independence movement and served as country’s first prime minister from 1971 to 1975. Of Rahman’s family, only his daughters Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Sheikh Rehana Siddiq survived the assassination as they were in West Germany at the time. While initially forbidden from returning to Bangladesh, Wazed became Prime Minister in 1997. After Rahman’s death, Bangladesh entered a period of military rule.
Majed has publicly admitted his involvement in the assassinations, and, like the others involved, did not initially face punishment for his actions. After Wazed became Prime Minister, Majed went into hiding. In 1998, a trial court sentenced Majed and 11 others to death for their involvement. The Supreme Court upheld the sentences in 2009. Five of them were hanged in 2010, one has died of natural causes and five remain at large.
After his arrest, Majed admitted he spent the last 22 years hiding in Kolkata, India. Exactly why he returned to Bangladesh remains unclear. According to officials from India’s Intelligence Branch, Majed frequently moved between rental houses while living in Kolkata.