The government and the families of Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury yesterday came up with contradictory versions of whether the two convicted war criminals had sought presidential clemency.
While two ministers categorically said both the war criminals sought clemency and the president turned down their pleas, the families claimed Mojaheed and Salauddin didn't ask for mercy.
The war criminals were hanged at 12:55am today.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petitions of the two. Their death sentences handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal thus remained upheld.
The copy of the SC order was sent to jail on Thursday through the tribunal. Around 2:45pm yesterday, Law Minster Anisul Huq confirmed that the two had sought presidential mercy.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, too, said both Mojaheed and Salauddin in the presence of two magistrates conveyed their decision to seek mercy.
The mercy petitions reached his desk around 2:30pm, the minister told this newspaper at 4:55pm.
He said the petitions, labelled “Appeal for mercy” on top, were then sent to the Prime Minister's Office to be forwarded to the president.
In the meantime, families of both the war criminals held separate press conferences.
At one press conference, held at Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium around noon, Mojaheed's family members indirectly requested the president to halt the execution until the end of the trial of August 21 grenade attack case, in which the Jamaat leader is an accused.
Salauddin's family members said he would convey his decision on seeking presidential clemency only when he would meet his lawyers.
When the media reported that Mojaheed and Salauddin had sought clemency, family members expressed doubt. Jamaat-e-Islami in a statement, termed the news “absolutely untrue and confusing.”
Contacted, the home minister around 5:00pm said, “They [Salauddin and Mojaheed] would have been hanged by now if they had not sought mercy. The duo has submitted pleas for presidential clemency through the magistrates.”
On the other hand, Salauddin's son Humman Quader Chowdhury said his father did not seek presidential clemency.
“We have asked him whether he had sought presidential clemency. He wanted to know who are talking such rubbish,” said Humman after meeting his father. “My father didn't seek presidential mercy.”
After meeting Mojaheed, his son Ali Ahmed Mabrur said his father told them that he did not seek the clemency.