Bangladesh Supreme Court Sunday upheld the death sentence of banned Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami’s former leader and two of his accomplices for attacking Britain’s then envoy in 2004, paving the way for their execution. HuJI leader Mufti Hannan lost the legal battle to save himself from the charges of an attempt on life of the former UK envoy to Bangladesh. Hannan and two of his associates attacked a shrine in 2004 that left three persons dead and injured Anwar Chowdhury, the British high commissioner at the time.
“There now remains no barrier in executing (HuJI chief) Mufti Abdul Hannan and the two other operatives of the outfit,” a spokesman of attorney general’s office said as the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division rejected a plea by the convicts seeking review of the apex court decision.
He said a three-member apex court bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha rejected the plea after holding hearing on the convicts’ review petition.
According to Bangladesh’s legal system, the convicts can seek presidential clemency to save their neck and unless they are pardoned jail authorities could hang them in four weeks time.
The apex court on December 7, 2016 upheld the three militants’ death penalty endorsing a previous High Court verdict in February this year that had validated a lower court judgment handing them the capital punishment.
Chowdhury narrowly escaped the grenade attack by sustaining minor injury at a shrine in northeastern Sylhet when three policemen were killed and 70 others wounded.
The HuJI operatives carried out the attack on him at the shrine of saint Hazrat Shahjalal in Sylhet, also the birthplace of Chowdhury, as he went to visit there 18 days into his new assignment in Dhaka.
A speedy trial tribunal originally tried the case and delivered its verdict on December 23, 2008, also sentencing to death HuJI leaders Sharif Shahedul Alam and Delwar Hossain alongside Hannan.
Hannan and seven other kingpins and operatives of his outfit were earlier sentenced to death by another court in Dhaka for a deadly 2001 bomb attack killing 10 people during Bengali New Year celebrations at a public park in the capital.
The US several years ago designated HuJi as a foreign terrorist organisation and “specially designated global terrorist” while Indian officials suspected the outfit’s links in the Jaipur serial bombings and several other attacks.
Twenty-one HuJI men, including Hannan and an ex-junior minister of past BNP government, are also being tried for another grenade attack on incumbent Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina on August 21, 2004.
The then opposition leader Hasina narrowly escaped the attack which killed a total of 24 people.
HuJI was formed in 1992 by Bangladeshis who took part in Afghan resistance against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.