Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Mujahid and BNP Standing Committee Member Chowdhury are now left with the last option of seeking presidential clemency.
The government will go ahead with the executions if the convicts refuse to ask for mercy or if the president rejects their prayer.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SK Sinha pronounced the verdicts after hearing Salauddin Quader’s petition. In both cases, Justice Sinha’s response was: “Dismissed.”
The Appellate Division bench had heard Mujahid’s petition on Tuesday and Chowdhury’s on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami has called a 24-hour strike for Thursday to protest the death penalty imposed on Mujahid.
At the review hearings, BNP chairperson’s adviser Khandker Mahbub Hossain represented both war criminals, while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam stood for the state.
“The jail authorities will carry out the death sentences on government orders,” Alam told reporters. “But they (the convicts) will get the chance to seek mercy from the president.”
It may be recalled that a special tribunal had sentenced Jamaat Secretary General Mujahid to death on July 17, 2013 for the murder of intellectuals and his involvement in the killing and torture of Hindus in 1971.
The former social welfare minister had appealed to the top court, seeking review of his death penalty but a bench led by Chief Justice Sinha upheld the tribunal’s verdict on June 16.
Salauddin Quader, infamous as Chittagong’s wartime terror, was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal on Oct 1, 2013 for his role in the mass killing and torture of Hindus and Awami League supporters.
The chief justice-led bench had upheld Chowdhury’s death penalty on July 29 after hearing his appeal against the tribunal decision.
It published the full appeal verdicts on Sep 30.
The tribunal had issued death warrants for the two. They were read out on Oct 1 to Mujahid at Dhaka Central Jail and Chowdhury at Kashimpur Jail.
The two men are now in Dhaka Central Jail, where Jamaat assistant secretaries general Abdul Quader Molla and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman were hanged for the atrocious crimes they had committed during the 1971 Liberation War.
In the past two decades Chowdhury has made headlines several times for his ‘arrogant and obscene’ remarks.
Mujahid also fueled outrage when he claimed in 2007, “There are no war criminals in the country, surely none at this moment.”
Reactions of the counsels
Attorney General Alam said, “The nation’s expectation has been fulfilled through the verdicts…there is no legal bar to executing them.”
“The jail authorities will follow the government’s decision to execute the death sentences. But things may change if they seek mercy,” he said.
Their lawyer Hossain said, “We are lawyers. We have fought the legal battle. We’ve lost. That’s all. There’s nothing else to say.”
About the execution, he said, “It fully depends on the government – when or if they will really execute them.”
He also said the convicts would decide whether to seek pardon from the president.
“The State can commute the sentence or acquit the convicts in line with the law even if the convicts do not seek it,” he added.