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Bangladesh supreme court stays execution of criminal politician

Publication Date : 11-12-2013


In a dramatic development late last night, the chamber judge of the Supreme Court stayed the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah just one and a half hours before the convicted war criminal was to hang.

The decision to halt the execution till 10:30am today came following a petition by the counsels for the condemned Jamaat-e-Islami leader.

Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain issued the order at his residence in the absence of the state counsels.

The jail authorities had completed all arrangements for Mollah’s execution last night, two days after International Crimes Tribunal-2 issued his death warrant.

Talking to reporters at 12:15am, Md Farman Ali, senior jail super of Dhaka Central Jail, said the jail authorities had halted the execution after getting the SC order.

The defence counsels yesterday also submitted a review 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.

Mollah’s counsel Shishir said that Justice Hossain did not consult Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain about the stay petition since the chamber judge has inherent powers to hear such urgent cases.

State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam said the government would move the apex court to vacate the stay order.

SC Registrar AKM Shamsul Islam said the hearing on the review petition would be held at a five-member bench of the Appellate Division at 10:30am today.

He said the chamber judge has the jurisdiction to hear any petition at any place and to pass any order.

The registrar, however, could not say how long it would take to complete the procedures.

Khandker Mahbub Hossain, another counsel for Mollah, said that the jail authorities cannot execute his client till 10:30am today following the chamber judge’s order.

“In the meantime (by 10:30am) we will place the review petition before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, and then the apex court may fix a date for a hearing on the review petition,” he said.

He said the hearing on the stay petition was held at Justice Hossain’s residence and none from the attorney general’s office was present there.

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-2 that had earlier awarded him life imprisonment.

Justice Hossain agreed with three other judges, including the chief justice, on handing down capital punishment to Mollah.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said that he had not been informed about the filing of the stay petition, its hearing or the stay order.

“I am still at United Hospital to see one of my relatives. I cannot say whether the jail authorities will accept the chamber judge’s order,” he said around 11:00pm.

If the prison authorities are satisfied with the order, they will stay Mollah’s execution.

“We will strongly oppose the petition filed by Quader Mollah,” he said.

The attorney general, however, refused to comment on whether the chamber judge can hear a petition at his residence without consulting the chief justice and in the absence of state counsels.

Earlier in the day, chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq and another defence counsel Tajul Islam met Quader Mollah at Dhaka Central Jail, when Mollah instructed them to file a review petition with the apex court.

Tajul Islam told this newspaper in the afternoon that the defence was preparing the petition and hoped to file it “within this week.”

But, within hours, defence lawyers rushed to the residences of the chamber judge and the attorney general with the stay petition for stopping his execution.

They did so after State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku told reporters around 7:30pm that Quader Mollah would be executed in the early hours today.

Bangladesh Bar Council Vice-chairman and BNP chairperson’s adviser Khandker Mahbub Hossain, Abdur Razzaq and Tajul Islam went to the residence of Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain at Judges’ Complex in the capital’s Kakrail around 8:30pm to move the petition.

Justice Mahmud advised them to hand over a copy of the petition to the attorney general.

The defence lawyers then went to the house of the attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, at Minto Road around 9:00pm. But the chief law officer of the state was not at home at the time.

Failing to reach him over the phone, they then went to the chamber judge’s residence for a second time around 9:20pm and came out around 10:30pm.

Defence counsels and an SC official then carried the stay order to the prison authorities around 11:00pm.

Earlier in the day, Tajul Islam said his client was yet to decide on whether or not to seek presidential mercy.

He said Mollah would get 15 days after receiving the warrant of execution order to decide whether he would pray for presidential mercy, as per Jail Code.

The 15-day time limit will expire on December 23 as the tribunal sent the order on December 8, he added.

But Khandker Mahbub, another defence counsel, said his client would get seven days to decide on seeking presidential mercy after the SC’s dismissal.

However, Qamrul Islam said Quader Mollah in the presence of two executive magistrates had said he would not seek presidential clemency.

Asked about the next legal process, Khandker Mahbub said if the SC dismissed the review petition, the jail authorities could execute Quader Mollah after 21 days and before 28 days from the rejection order.



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