Dhaka: Fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami will be executed on Tuesday night after he refused to seek presidential clemency for war crimes committed during Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said.
"He will be executed later tonight," Khan told PTI.
Khan said Nizami, the 73-year-old chief of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, preferred not to seek presidential clemency, his last chance to save his neck "because he understood the crimes he had committed were unpardonable".
"Nizami did not seek mercy. The executive order to carry out the death sentence has been sent to the prison authorities," Khan said.
The minister's comments came minutes after Nizami's family members came out of Dhaka Central Jail after their final meeting with him.
Witnesses said three cars carrying over 20 close relatives including his wife, two sons, their wives and a daughter reached the heavily guarded jail at 7.50 PM (local time) and came out at 8.40 PM (local time).
"We were asked by the jail officials to come to the prison as we earlier requested for the (last) meeting," one of the relatives told reporters outside the prison gate.
Four other 1971 war crimes convicts were hanged earlier soon after their last meeting with family members.
Meanwhile, elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion joined police to step up security around the jail in old part of the capital. The jail guards have beefed up the security inside the facility also. The street in front of the jail has been barricaded and closed to traffic since the evening.
TV footages showed that police formed a 20-yard perimeter around the main gate of the prison pushing back the crowds of reporters and camera crews and asked enthusiastic onlookers to keep a safe distance.
Nizami was given capital punishment in October 2014 by a special tribunal after being convicted of "superior responsibility" as the chief of the infamous Al-Badr militia forces in 1971. He was particularly found guilty of systematic killings of over 450 people in his own village.
His final appeal against his death sentence was rejected by the apex court on May 5.
A former minister in ex-premier Khaleda Zia's BNP-led
four-party coalition government, Nizami has been in jail since 2010, when he was arrested to be tried 1971 war crimes.
TV reports quoting unidentified jail officials said a group of hangmen from among the prison inmates was kept ready after necessary exercises as per procedure. Shahjahan Ali would lead them as the chief executioner and another inmate Raju would act as his top aide.
Prison officials earlier said jail doctors checked the heath of the death row convict last night after the Supreme Court verdict was read out to him while senior jail officials saw him at his solitary confinement earlier today.
Jamaat had on Saturday said: "question doesn't arise at all to seek mercy to anybody else except Allah".
His eldest son and lawyer Najib Momen supplemented the party statement, saying "he (Nizami) will not seek clemency to the President".
Nizami appears to be the last remaining top perpetrators of crimes against humanity as Bangladesh so far executed four war criminals since the trial process began six years ago.