Bangladeshi court stays execution of senior Jamaat leader

Bangladeshi court stays execution of senior Jamaat leader

A Bangladeshi court tonight granted a last minute reprieve to senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah, staying his execution shortly before he was to be hanged for genocide during the country's 1971 liberation war.

"The Chamber judge of the Appellate Division (of the Supreme Court), Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, ordered suspension of the execution of the death penalty until 10.30 am tomorrow," Supreme Court Registrar AKM Shamsul Islam told reporters.

The stay order came as jail officials prepared to hang Mollah, 65, at one minute past midnight. The family members of the death row convict met him for the last time earlier this evening.

Mollah's counsel rushed to Dhaka Central Jail with a copy of the stay order issued at 10.15 pm, news  channels reported.

The order was issued after Mollah's lawyers filed a plea seeking the hearing of their petition for a review of the apex court's judgement that handed down the death penalty to the Jammat leader.

The war crimes tribunal sentenced Mollah to life imprisonment on February 5 for his atrocities during Bangladesh's liberation War. The Appellate Division revised the verdict on September 17 and raised it to death penalty.

Based on the highest court's verdict, the tribunal issued the death warrant for Mollah.
Mollah was arrested on July 13, 2010, while the tribunal indicted him on May 28, 2012 on six specific charges for actively participating, facilitating, aiding and substantially contributing to the attacks on unarmed civilians, "causing commission of the horrific genocides, murders and rapes".

The jail authorities, however, were yet to acknowledge the receipt of the stay order.
"We are going to execute him at 12:01 tonight," Forman Ali, senior superintendent of the prisons earlier told newsmen after 23 family members of Mollah went to high security Dhaka Central Jail in two microbuses.

Mollah, the fourth-highest Jamaat leader, was the first politician to be found guilty by the Supreme Court after it rejected an appeal to acquit him of all charges.

Earlier the evening, Jamaat issued a statement warning of "dire consequences" if their assistant secretary general was executed, calling the trial a "conspiracy to kill him" while Mollah's son said his father was being killed without "giving the due time".

"If the government executes this conspiracy, the consequences will be deadly," the Jamaat statement said.

Authorities enforced a stern security vigil around the jail complex mobilising police in riot gears and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) as Jamaat activists turned violent setting ablaze several vehicles at different parts of the country.

Paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops were also called out to guard the capital and other major cities and pockets known to be Jamaat stronghold.

Mollah's lawyers, who earlier today held a 50-minute meeting with him inside Dhaka central Jail, said their client was "mentally sound" and asked them to file a review petition.

State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam said Mollah refused to seek mercy from the president despite being asked to do so.

The prosecution lawyers said Mollah could seek the presidential clemency in seven days since the death warrant was served.

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