Dhaka: A senior leader of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, sentenced to death by a tribunal for genocide during the 1971 liberation war, today decided to challenge the verdict in Bangladesh`s Supreme Court.
Abdul Quader Mollah told his lawyers during a 50-minute meeting inside Dhaka central Jail to file a review petition in the apex court. They also discussed the issue of seeking presidential clemency.
The lawyers said 65-year-old Mollah was "mentally sound" and had asked them to file the review petition.
"He has asked us to file a review petition, saying he was contemplating seeking mercy from the President," the chief defence counsel told reporters.
The war crimes tribunal sentenced Mollah to life imprisonment on February 5 for his atrocities during the Bangladesh`s liberation War. The Appellate Division revised the verdict on September 17 and raised it to the death penalty.
Based on the highest court`s verdict, the tribunal issued a death warrant for Mollah, dubbed as the "Butcher of Mirpur", a Dhaka suburb where he committed most of the atrocities.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, however, has ruled out the scope for such a review petition since Mollah was tried under a special law by the country`s International Crimes Tribunal constituted to try the 1971 war crimes suspects.
"I have been telling you from the beginning that there is no option for a review. I wish to say unambiguously that the Jail Code won`t apply here," Alam said.
The prosecution said the Jail Code will not be applicable in Mollah`s case as those convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes cannot be accorded basic rights under the law.
According to the code, a sentence has to be executed within 21 to 28 days after the Appellate Division publishes the verdict.
The prosecution lawyers, however, said Mollah could seek presidential clemency within seven days after the serving of the death warrant.
The mass circulation Samokal newspaper reported two magistrates yesterday met Mollah to ascertain his decision about seeking clemency but "he remained silent" despite their repeated queries.