Related News Mollah execution to derail polls? Jamaat, Shibir on rampage Justice Sinha’s village home set on fire Stay stops Mollah execution The fate of Abdul Quader Mollah now hangs in the balance, as the Supreme Court may decide today whether to accept or reject the review petition against the death sentence of the convicted war criminal. If the apex court fails to come up with a decision, the execution of the condemned Jamaat-e-Islami leader may be stayed for several weeks with the court going on a 19-day vacation from tomorrow. The SC yesterday held a hearing on maintainability of the petition and adjourned the proceedings till 9:00am today. Mollah’s execution is halted until further SC order, as the court yesterday said the matter is now within its jurisdiction. A five-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, made the observation at a crowded courtroom before adjourning the hearing at 1:00pm. In a sudden move on late Tuesday night, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, chamber judge of the SC, stayed Mollah’s execution just one and a half hours before the Jamaat leader was to walk the gallows. Mollah’s lawyers took the stay order from the chamber judge by apparently dodging the state counsels. None from the attorney general’s office was present at Hossain’s residence where he issued the order after hearing Mollah’s stay petition filed on Tuesday night. The decision frustrated family members of the Liberation War victims, Gonojagoron Mancha activists and people of all walks of life, who were eagerly waiting that night for the execution of Mollah, infamous as Mirpurer Kosai (the Butcher of Mirpur). Jamaat enforced a countrywide hartal for the last three days to protest its leader’s death warrant issued by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 on December 8. Mollah filed a petition with the chamber judge on Tuesday night, seeking a review of the SC verdict that awarded him death penalty for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. Talking to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, a SC lawyer said if the petition is not settled today, the case proceedings would be delayed till January next year with the court going on annual winter vacation from tomorrow. The counsel, however, said if the court wishes, it might hear the petition during the vacation. The court will reopen on January 2 next year. MK Rahman, additional attorney general and coordinator of the prosecution team, said court proceedings on the review petition might be completed today, as the attorney general had already placed his arguments yesterday. He said the defence lawyers made lengthy arguments on the petition’s maintainability yesterday and might place further arguments today. Mollah’s counsels might intentionally prolong their arguments today to delay the court proceedings, said Rahman. During yesterday’s hearing, the convict’s lawyer Abdur Razzaq told the court that according to the constitution, his client had the right to move the review petition in the apex court. He argued that the SC has inherent powers to review its verdict. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed it, saying the petition was not acceptable as per the constitution, since Mollah had been tried and convicted under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973. During the proceedings, Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain expressed dissatisfaction at media reports that the attorney general was holding a meeting with the chief justice at the latter’s residence while the SC chamber judge was dealing with Mollah’s stay petition at his residence on Tuesday night. The attorney general can make an appeal or place an argument before the chief justice but cannot hold any meeting with the CJ, he observed. The media shouldn’t publish any report without verifying the authenticity of the information, he added. Earlier in the day, Mollah’s lawyers submitted a petition to the SC, seeking an extension till January 2 of the chamber judge’s order that stayed Mollah’s execution till 10:30am yesterday. The state counsels also filed a petition with the apex court for vacating the stay order. Four other SC judges dealing with the review petition are Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik. The apex court on September 17 sentenced Mollah to death, overruling the judgment of the ICT-2 that had given him life term for committing crimes against humanity in 1971.