For his skill in using the gallows … Bangladesh releases a prisoner who helped it carry out 26 death sentences

The Bangladeshi authorities have released a prisoner who was commissioned by them to carry out death sentences against 26 prisoners – including murderers, opponents and coup plotters – in exchange for a commutation of his sentence.

After Shah Jahan Boyan entered prison 32 years ago, prison officials discovered his skill in using the gallows, so they assigned him to execute 26 people during his imprisonment.

The deputy chief of Dhaka Central Prison said, “His prison sentence has been commuted due to the executions he carried out,” which numbered 26 sentences.

Shah Jahan’s career began with the death penalty in 2007, when he carried out the execution of Irshad Sikder, who was convicted of killing 24 people.

Among those executed were also the leader of the “Islamic Group” Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and the dissident Salahuddin Qadir Chaudhry, according to an official who requested anonymity.

Also hanged in 2007 was Siddiq Islam, known as “Bangala Bhai,” a leader of the banned “Bangladesh Mujahideen” group, who had led a nationwide bombing campaign two years earlier, according to the same official.

And Shah Jahan, 74, justifies what he did by saying, “If I had not hanged them, someone else would have done it.. Even if I felt sympathy as a convict, I am obligated to do so,” indicating that what he did helped him reduce his sentence.

He explained after his release that “regardless of the crime a person commits, when he faces death, you will feel some sympathy for him,” adding, “I spent a long prison sentence in which the authorities ensured my comfort and honored me.”

Bangladesh is one of the few countries that still carry out executions by hanging, and since its separation from Pakistan in 1971, it has executed about 500 people.

And human rights organizations indicate that more than two thousand prisoners are awaiting execution, including hundreds of Islamists and rebels from the border guards who were convicted of killing senior military officers.

All executions in Bangladesh are long-term prisoners who are selected and trained to do the job.

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