Bangladesh halts execution of opposition leader

Bangladesh halts execution of opposition leader

DHAKA – The Associated Press
Bangladesh halts execution of opposition leader

Jamaat-e-Islami called a nationwide strike protesting against the death warrant issued for its Assistant Secretary General Abdul Quader Molla for war crimes during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war, local media reported. REUTERS photo

Lawyers for an Islamist opposition leader in Bangladesh were trying to get his death sentence thrown out after a late reprieve saved his life just hours before he was to be hanged.

Abdul Quader Mollah, convicted of war crimes during the nation’s war of independence against Pakistan in 1971, was due to be executed at 00:01 Dec. 11 but lawyers went to the home of Judge Syed Mahmud Hossain and secured a postponement. After beginning to hear the case on Dec. 10, the Supreme Court adjourned its proceedings until Dec. 12.

Now, the lawyers are trying to convince the Supreme Court to throw out the sentence in a case that could usher in a fresh wave of political violence ahead of national elections set for next month.

Turkish users take it to Twitter

The decision followed an intense social media campaign, with ‘#stopexecutionBangladesh’ quickly rising to the top of the list of trending topics on Twitter. Many Turkish users also posted on the website using the hashtag.

Mollah’s party, the Jamaat-e-Islami party, issued a statement warning of “dire consequences” if he was executed.

Thousands of people who supported the execution of Mollah had gathered on Dec. 9 at a major intersection in the capital, Dhaka, to celebrate, but were instead shocked by the reports of the postponement.

The execution would be the first from special trials begun by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 for suspects accused of crimes during the nation’s war of independence against Pakistan in 1971.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül had requested late last year clemency for Ghulam Azam, one of the several convicted Jamaat-e-Islami, convicted by sending a letter to Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman. Gül had requested the Islamic leader not to be executed for the sake of peace in the society.

The government says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war.