Bangladesh president Abdul Hamid rejects HuJI leader Mufti Abdul Hannan’s mercy plea

By: | Updated: April 9, 2017 5:22 PM

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid has rejected mercy pleas of banned Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and two associates, paving the way for their execution for an attack on a shrine that killed three people and wounded the British high commissioner at the time.

President Hamid rejected their mercy petitions soon after they sought presidential clemency in a last-ditch attempt to escape the gallows, a Bangabhaban spokesman told PTI. (Reuters)

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid has rejected mercy pleas of banned Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and two associates, paving the way for their execution for an attack on a shrine that killed three people and wounded the British high commissioner at the time. President Hamid rejected their mercy petitions soon after they sought presidential clemency in a last-ditch attempt to escape the gallows, a Bangabhaban spokesman told PTI. “We have received the presidential decision…We are preparing to execute them any time in line with the jail code,” a prison official told PTI.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that preparations are underway to carry out the sentences.

According to Bangladesh’s legal system, the convicts can seek presidential clemency to save their neck and unless they are pardoned jail authorities could hang them in four weeks time.

“The Appellate Division (of the Supreme Court) had reconfirmed their death penalties more than 20 days ago and on receipt of the order and we immediately conveyed to them (the death row convicts),” the jail official said, suggesting that their execution was imminent.

On March 19, the Supreme Court reconfirmed an earlier verdict of itself endorsing death penalty of Hannan and the two others for the 2004 attack on the then UK envoy.

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The then Bangladeshi born British High Commissioner Anwar Chowdhury narrowly escaped the grenade attack at a shrine in northeastern Sylhet that killed three people, all policemen, and injured 70 others. Anwar sustained minor injuries.

The HuJI operatives carried out the attack at the shrine of saint Hazrat Shahjalal in Sylhet, also the birthplace of Chowdhury, as he went to visit there 18 days into his new assignment in Dhaka.

A speedy trial tribunal originally tried the case and delivered its verdict on December 23, 2008, sentencing to death HuJI leaders Sharif Shahedul Alam and Delwar Hossain alongside Hannan.

Hannan and seven other kingpins and operatives of Huji were earlier sentenced to death by another court in Dhaka for a deadly 2001 bomb attack that killed 10 people during Bengali New Year celebrations at a public park.

Twenty one HuJI men including Hannan and an ex-junior minister of past BNP government are now being tried for another grenade attack on incumbent Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina on August 21, 2004.

The then opposition leader Hasina narrowly escaped the attack that left 24 people dead.

HuJI was formed in 1992 by Bangladeshis who took part in the Afghan war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

The US has designated HuJi as a foreign terrorist organization and “specially designated global terrorist” while Indian officials suspected the outfit’s links in the Jaipur serial bombings and several other blasts there.

Bangladesh has witnessed a spate of attacks on secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities since 2013.

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