Bangladesh upholds Islamist’s death sentence
Hardline party leader's execution to go ahead
Onlookers and heavy security outside Dhaka Central Jail where Mollah is held pending his execution. (Photo by Shahadat Hosen)
The Bangladesh Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a top Islamist leader convicted of war crimes, rejecting his plea for a review. Two days earlier, the court had stayed his execution just hours before he was due to be hanged.
Judges dismissed the review petition filed by the lawyers of Abdul Kader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the hard line Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, who was convicted of war crimes for his role in the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh.
Mollah was handed a life sentence in February for war crimes including torture, killing, abduction and arson committed during the conflict.
The leniency of the judgment enraged progressives and secularists, sparking a series of demonstrations over several months, with protesters demanding death sentences for Mollah and all others convicted of war crimes.
Later, both state and defense lawyers appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court. Then in September, the court rejected Mollah’s appeal and increased the sentence to death.
After Tuesday's stay of execution, the court has now cleared the way for Mollah’s execution, according to Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.
“The Court ruled that a review petition is not applicable in a special case like war crimes. So, there is now no legal barrier to execute Kader Mollah,” Alam said outside the courthouse in Dhaka today.
While state lawyers cheered the ruling, defense lawyers expressed their dissatisfaction.
“We are disappointed over the Court’s rejection of our petition. Beyond legal procedures the Court could have used its innate power to review the case,” said defense lawyer Abdur Razzak. “We are also considering filing a ‘mercy petition’ to the President.”
Hasan Jamil, Mollah’s eldest son, again stated that his father’s death sentence was politically motivated.
“The government is killing my father because he was an opponent of the Awami League and was involved in Islamic politics,” he said.
If hanged, Mollah will be the first leader convicted by the war crimes tribunal to be executed for crimes against humanity. Seven other Jamaat-e-Islami party leaders have also been condemned to either death or life in prison by the tribunal, which was established in 2010 by the ruling Awami League. Several other politicians are still awaiting trial.
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