Molla's fate hangs in the balance
Suliman Niloy and Quazi Shahreen Haq ,
Published: 2013-12-11 11:32:19.0 BdST Updated: 2013-12-11 16:44:38.0 BdST
The Appellate Division has adjourned the hearing on the 'maintainability' of Abdul Quader Molla's review petition until Thursday.
It has put on hold the execution of the war crimes convict until further notice.
Thursday is the last working day of the Appellate Division before winter vacation.
If the issue is not resolved by Thursday, the execution of the verdict might have to wait until the next year, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said.
The full bench led by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain started hearing the stay petition on the Jamaat-e-Islami leader’s execution at 10am.
Molla's counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain told the court that they had filed a petition to review the Supreme Court's verdict with the Chamber Judge on Tuesday night.
The defence also asked to extend the stay order on Molla's execution.
The Appellate Division then decided it will start hearings at 11.30am to examine if Molla's review petition is 'maintainable' and stayed the execution until further notice.
The Jamaat Assistant Secretary General was scheduled to be hanged a minute after midnight on Tuesday.
But a last-minute attempt by his lawyers saw the Supreme Court Chamber Judge stay the execution until 10:30am Wednesday, which now stands stopped until further notice.
The Prosecution has maintained that as a war crime convict, Molla is not entitled to a review petition, but his counsels have argued he has the right to seek a review.
Defence counsel Barrister Abdur Razzaq said in the hearing they hoped to get the scope of filing a review petition in the case taken up by the International Crimes Tribunal.
The case was filed over incidents that happened 4o years ago, he said. He demanded justice in the case.
The Chief Justice then asked him to talk about the maintainability of the review petition.
Razzaq sought two days to file the review petition.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam argued that the convict was not entitled to review petition. “This is an attempt to linger the process.”
He said if the defence was given two days the execution of the verdict would extend until the next year.
No regular activities of the court take place during the winter vacation.
The Chief Justice again asked Razzaq to continue his argument on the maintainability of the review petition.
“We will hear the merit later. This is a minor issue. You (Razzaq) are a senior lawyer. You are able to do that. We are not in a hurry, but where does the issue stand?”
Razzaq said, “I am incapable of doing so. The Attorney General is capable of that since he is senior to me.”
The Chief Justice asked him who the senior advocate was for filing the review petition.
After going through pages, the court said, “You are the senior advocate. You have agreed to take the responsibility. Let’s start with maintainability.”
Then the court set 11.30am to hear maintainability of the review petition.
Many lawyers backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami were present at the Supreme Court. They were seen raising slogans after the court adjourned.
Three hours before the execution was postponed, State Minister for Home Shamsul Hque Tuku and State Miniser for Law Qamrul Islam announced that the war crimes convict would be hanged on Tuesday midnight.
The prisons authorities got ready to hang him one minute past Tuesday midnight. Molla’s family members met him for the last time.
Chamber Judge Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain on Tuesday night suspended the execution of Molla’s death sentence until 10:30am Wednesday after the Jamaat-e-Islami leader’s lawyers moved him.
After getting out of the Chamber Judge’s residence, Razzaq said they had secured an order for suspension of the execution of the sentence until 10:30am Wednesday.
Supreme Court Registrar AKM Shamsul Islam told bdnews24.com that an order of this nature had reached them. “We are contacting the prison authorities,” he said.
However, the prison authorities were ready to execute the death sentence . Around 10:45pm, one of Molla’s lawyers Farid Uddin arrived at the jail gate to deliver a copy of the stay order.
He told reporters, “The Chamber Judge has given the stay order. We are here to inform the prison authorities.”
Dhaka’s Civil Surgeon was seen entering the jail nearly at the same time Farid Uddin arrived.
Several minutes later, Abdur Razzaq also arrived there. After meeting the prison officials, he told reporters at the jail gate about the Chamber Judge’s order.
As the previously set execution time, 12:01am, passed, Senior Superintendent Farman Ali confirmed the stay order on Molla’s execution.
The International Crimes Tribunal had on Sunday issued the death warrant for Molla on receiving a copy of the full version of the Supreme Court’s death verdict.
Earlier, Bangladesh's second war crimes tribunal on Feb 5 had sentenced Molla to life imprisonment for killings, rapes and looting during the War of Independence in 1971.
Perceived to be too lenient a penalty, it sparked off a wave of anger and frustration, drawing thousands of protestors to the iconic Shahbagh crossway, birthplace of the youth-led civil uprising.
The mass protest that ran for weeks and spread to the whole of Bangladesh was later dubbed “Bangla Spring’.
The Islamist party had issued threat of a ‘civil war’ the day prior to the verdict on Quader Molla.
Amid protests, the prosecution moved the Supreme Court against the verdict. The highest court, on Oct 17, revised the life term to a death sentence.
Supporters of the Jamaat went berserk across Bangladesh since Tuesday evening after news spread that Molla would be hanged at midnight. They attacked the houses of Awami League leaders at several places.
The Jamaat has also called a nationwide daylong general strike for Wednesday. It threatened that the ‘political death’ of the ruling party if Quader Molla was hanged.
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