President Abdul Hamid has rejected mercy petitions of death row war criminals Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said.
“The President has rejected the two convicts’ mercy plea and we have got the order through the home secretary,” the minister told The Daily Star at 9:50pm.
“Since the pleas have been turned down, we are taking preparation to execute the death sentence,” he added.
Both the convicts have been kept at the Dhaka Central Jail, where preparation has been going on for the execution.
Law Secretary Abu Saleh Sk Md Zahirul Haque reach Bangbhaban, the office-cum-residence of the president at 8:05pm with the petitions – the last resort of the two condemned war criminals to avoid execution.
Earlier, the petitions were taken to home and law ministers for the opinion.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told The Daily Star this afternoon that the petitions reached his desk around 2:30pm.
He said the petitions, labeled “Appeal for mercy” on top, were being sent to the Prime Minister’s Office after being viewed by law minister – when The Daily Star called him around 5:00pm.
Around 7:30pm, the law minister held a press briefing at his Gulshan residence where he asserted that the mercy pleas were filed in accordance with Article 49 of the Constitution – the section relating to the presidential clemency.
As part of heightened security measures, authorities have decided to deploy paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in Dhaka and Chittagong from 6:30pm this evening.
Security around Dhaka Central Jail and adjoining areas was heightened. A large number of law enforcers including police, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and prison guards were deployed.
All shops and establishments around the jail area were ordered to shut by 8:00pm. Onlookers were asked to clear the area. The road leading to jail from Chawkbazar was closed around 7:40pm.
Meanwhile, family and lawyers of SQ Chowdhury and Mojaheed were still dubious on whether the mercy petitions were filed at all, after the law minister’s confirmation earlier today.
Around 5:20pm, Hummam Quader Chowdhury, SQ Chowdhury’s son, told reporters he was denied to meet his father at Dhaka Central Jail. “We don’t know yet if he filed mercy petition.”
“We don’t believe that our father filed for mercy,” said Fazlul Quader Fayaz, his other son. Mojaheed’s son Ali Ahmed Mabrur echoed similar words.
SQ Chowdhury’s family also tried to move a letter to President Abdul Hamid where they highlighted the international community’s “opinion” on the trial of the BNP leader.
Earlier in the day, two magistrates went to Dhaka jail to inquire whether SQ Chowdhury and Mojaheed would seek mercy from the president.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman told The Daily Star they did hand a mercy plea to the magistrates.
Yesterday, the authorities asked Mojaheed and Salauddin whether they would seek presidential clemency, the last option for the two convicts to avoid gallows. Both of them had said they would inform the prisons officials about their decision later.
A day after delivering verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday released its full verdicts that dismissed Mojaheed and Chowdhury’s petitions to review their death sentences originally handed down by two war crimes tribunals in 2013.
Later, jail officials read out the SC verdicts to the war crimes convicts.