President Zillur Rahman in the three years from 2009 granted clemency to 21 persons sentenced to death in different cases, Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir told parliament yesterday.
Four others awarded death penalty in different cases got presidential mercy during the period 1972 to 2008, he said replying to lawmakers' queries.
The minister, however, did not name the presidents who had pardoned these four.
The incumbent president pardoned one convict on death row in 2009, 18 in 2010 and two in 2011, the minister said.
In 2008, the then president granted clemency to one death row convict and two others in 2005. Another condemned person got presidential pardon in1987.
Article 49 of the constitution says, “The president shall have power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority."
In July 2011, Biplob, son of Abu Taher, an Awami League leader and mayor of Laxmipur municipality, was pardoned by the president in advocate Nurul Islam murder case, in which he was given death sentence.
Biplob was convicted in absentia in three cases. After being on the run for more than 10 years, he surrendered before a court on April 6 last year. His father then filed mercy petitions with the president, following which the latter granted clemency to Biplob in the Nurul Islam murder case last year.
In a case for the killing of Natore Jubo Dal leader Sabbir Ahmed Gama, the president in late 2010 pardoned 20 death row convicts, media reports said.
One of the condemned killers in this case was not pardoned as he was on the run.
Meanwhile, President Zillur Rahman's grant of mercy drew sharp criticism from different quarters, including rights groups, legal experts and the media.
Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Mizanur Rahman reacted sharply to granting of presidential pardon, saying, the nation must come out of this culture.
“A convict in a criminal case should in no way be forgiven,” he said at a programme of the Cox's Bazar district administration on February 26 this year.