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Bangla court puts Mollah execution on hold

Dhaka, Dec. 11 (PTI): Bangladesh’s top court today put on hold Abdul Quader Mollah’s execution which was dramatically stayed in a last-minute reprieve, as the hearing on a review petition filed by the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami leader was adjourned till tomorrow.

“The hearing is adjourned until Thursday,” Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain said at the hearing of a defence plea by lawyers of Mollah who was sentenced to death for committing crimes against humanity by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court during the 1971 Liberation War .

The court has put on hold the execution of the war crimes convict until further notice.

The apex court’s chamber judge Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain late last night, in a last-minute order, halted the execution until 10.30am (local time). Mollah’s lawyers obtained the stay order after approaching the judge at his residence.

The execution of the death penalty of Mollah was stayed less than two hours before he was to be hanged at one minute past midnight. The Jamaat leader’s family members met him for the last time earlier last evening.

Mollah’s counsel rushed to Dhaka Central Jail with a copy of the stay order issued at 10:15 pm (local time).

It 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.

Chief Justice Mohammad Muzammel Hossain earlier today told the defence lawyers to “cooperate with the court”.        

“You are a senior lawyer, you know the should cooperate with us,” he told chief defence counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain.

Mollah’s lawyers said they obtained the stay order last night on their petition claiming that the government took preparations to execute Mollah “without finishing all legal procedures”.

For his atrocities carried siding with Pakistani troops during the 1971 Liberation War, Mollah was dubbed as the “Butcher of Mirpur”.

The war crimes tribunal sentenced Mollah to life imprisonment on February 5. 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, and 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”.

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.

Mollah’s lawyers, earlier today, held a 50-minute meeting with the death row convict inside Dhaka central Jail, and said their client was “mentally sound”.

They said Mollah asked them to file a review petition with the Supreme Court seeking the revision of its verdict. Two magistrates met Mollah on Sunday to know his decision about seeking the clemency but “he remained silent” despite their repeated queries, the Samokal newspaper reported.

State minister for home Shamsul Haque Tuku said the time for executing the death penalty was set as Mollah “declined to seek the presidential clemency”.

Meanwhile, violence gripped parts of Bangladesh overnight killing at least five people as activists of Jamaat and its student wing Islamic Chhatra Shibir clashed with police and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). They set ablaze a number of vehicles including police vans.

Suspected Jamaat activists attacked the village home of Supreme Court judge SK Sinha at northeaster Sunamganj, setting it on fire.

The activists killed a woman and her minor daughter, throwing petrol bombs at a covered van in suburban Gazipur on the outskirts of the capital.

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