DHAKA, Dec 12 — Bangaldesh Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah is set to be hanged anytime after he refused to seek presidential clemency following the Supreme Court’s rejection of a review petition of his death sentence Thursday.
Mollah conveyed his decision to the jail authorities after being asked whether he would want to seek presidential mercy, The Daily Star reported.
The Jamaat’s assistant secretary general was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity in the 1971 Liberation War.
A five-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Md. Muzammel Hossain passed the order Thursday morning, clearing the way for the execution.
“There is no scope to accept Mollah’s review petition,” Xinhua quoted the Supreme Court as saying in its brief verdict.
The ruling means that Mollah can be sent to the gallows anytime soon as the death sentence remains valid.
“The government has fulfilled its obligation by sending executive magistrate twice to ask him whether he wants to seek presidential mercy,” Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the Daily Star.
The attorney general added that on both occasions, Mollah refrained from saying anything in this regard.
Following the court’s decision, chief defense counsel Abdur Razzaq said: “Let us receive the full verdict. He can’t be executed until the release of the full verdict. And we have time until Dec 23 for filing mercy petition as per jail code.”
However, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said: “The jail code will not be applicable in case of Mollah.”
Bangladesh’s Supreme Court had Wednesday adjourned till Thursday morning the hearing on the acceptability of the review petition filed by Mollah.
About one-and-a-half hours before Mollah was to be hanged Tuesday, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, a Supreme Court chamber judge, stayed the execution of the Jamaat leader until 10.30 a.m. Wednesday.
Meanwhile Human Rights Watch urged Bangladesh not to execute Abdul Quader Mollah.
The rights group said it deplored “the fact that he will be executed after an unfair trial and denial of a full and impartial appeal of his conviction”.
Mollah was accused of atrocities in the 1971 war of liberation and was originally sentenced to life in prison.
He was later sentenced to death on the basis of the testimony of a woman who was 12 years old in 1971 and had changed her story.
Human Rights Watch said many governments and the UN have called on Bangladesh not to impose the death penalty in this case.
“Human Rights Watch takes no position on Mollah’s guilt or innocence, which can only be established after a fair trial.
That came after the defense counsel Tuesday evening submitted a petition to the chamber judge against the verdict of the apex court that sentenced Mollah to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
Justice Hossain was one of the five members of the Appellate Division bench that sentenced Mollah to death, overruling the judgment of International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-2 that had earlier awarded him a life term.
After the ICT-2 sentenced Mollah to life imprisonment Feb 5, hundreds of people, mostly pro-ruling party men, flocked to Shahbagh square, an iconic place in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, demanding death penalty for Mollah for crimes against humanity in 1971.
The ICT-2 Dec 8 issued the death warrant for Mollah amid a widespread debate among lawyers on whether the Jamaat leader has the right to move a review petition before the apex court.
Mollah was indicted in May last year with six specific charges for his alleged involvement in murders and mass killings in 1971.
Following Thursday’s verdict, family members of Mollah went to the Dhaka Central Jail in the evening to meet him.
The group included Mollah’s elder son Hasan Jamil, two children, five women, and a youth, who could not be immediately identified.
Bangladesh authorities said there was not much to prepare for the execution of Mollah.
Mollah can be executed at a very short notice since some preparations have already been completed, prison officials said.
“He will be given bath and asked whether he has any last wish,” said an official of Dhaka Central Jail.
The authorities would not need much time to set up the gallows “since everything has been kept ready”, the official added.
Earlier in the day, soon after the Supreme Court announced its verdict Hundreds of youths gathered in Dhaka’s Shahbagh area to celebrate
Hailing the ruling, a number of student organisations took out processions, chanting victory slogans.
“Joy holo bhai joy holo, Shahbagher joy holo” (It’s a victory of Shabagh), “Joy holo bhai joy holo, muktijuddher joy holo” (It’s victory of the Liberation War), people shouted. –IANS