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Bangladesh’s Deadliest Executioner, TikTok Star Dies After Prison Release

Police officials held a press conference at the hospital where Shah Jahan Bhuya died. (File)

Dhaka:

The deadliest executioner in Bangladesh’s history died on Monday, police said, a year after he was released from a prison where he hanged the country’s notorious serial killers, opposition politicians convicted of war crimes and coup plotters.

Since his release in June last year, Shahjahan Bowya, 70, has written a best-selling book about his experiences as a hangman, was briefly married to a girl 50 years his junior and in recent weeks has become popular on TikTok for short videos he makes with teenage girls.

Police said the man experienced chest pain at his home in Hemayetpur, an industrial town on the outskirts of the capital, on Monday morning and was rushed to Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Hospital.

“He was brought dead but doctors are yet to ascertain the actual cause of death,” Dhaka police chief Sajib Dey told AFP.

“He was having difficulty breathing,” Bouya’s landlord Abul Kashem told AFP. “He had rented our room only 15 days ago and was living alone.”

Bouya was serving 42 years in prison for murder.

But his dozens of hangings behind bars led to his sentence being reduced and he was released from Dhaka’s maximum prison last year.

Bangladesh ranks third in the world for the number of death sentences imposed, and carries out its death row inmates by hanging, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

“Amazing power”

A learned Marxist revolutionary, Mr. Bhuya joined the outlawed Sarbahara rebel group in the 1970s, which sought to topple a government it viewed as a puppet of neighboring India.

He was convicted of killing a truck driver in a shootout with police in 1979.

While he was in custody during his trial (a long 12-year trial), he observed the executioner being massaged by four other inmates and noted the “first class” treatment given to the executioner.

“The hangman has great power,” he told himself, and willingly accepted the task.

Prison authorities put his execution total at 26, but he claims to have been involved in as many as 60.

Among those killed by his hands were military officers convicted of plotting a 1975 coup and killing the country’s founding father and the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Activists say Bangladesh’s criminal justice system is deeply flawed, but Buya has ignored their criticism, even as he believes at least three of the inmates he executed were innocent.

In February, his book about his life as a hangman was released and became a bestseller at Bangladesh’s largest annual book fair.

His 96-page book describes the rope hanging procedure that the country inherited from its British colonial masters.

He never intervened in the debate over the abolition of the death penalty, but calmly explained the process.

He also spoke about the final moments of some of the country’s controversial figures and serial killers.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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