The jail authorities couldn't initiate the process of executing war crimes convict Muhammad Kamaruzzaman yesterday, as the Supreme Court was yet to release the judgment that upheld his death penalty.
Talking to The Daily Star, Law Minister Anisul Huq and Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the jail authorities cannot execute Kamaruzzaman's death sentence unless they get a copy of the SC verdict.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha last night approved the draft of the full verdict. It is likely to be released today after the judges concerned sign it, an SC source said around 9:00pm.
The apex court on Monday dismissed the Jamaat leader's review petition against its verdict, leaving him with only one option -- to seek presidential clemency.
As the authorities of Dhaka Central Jail didn't get a copy of the SC order, they couldn't ask Kamaruzzaman whether he would seek mercy from the president.
A war crimes convict must be given the opportunity to seek presidential mercy before his execution, according to the SC verdict on the review petition of another Jamaat leader, Abdul Quader Mollah.
On Monday, Mahbubey told reporters that as per the SC verdict, Kamaruzzaman would get "a reasonable time" to seek mercy, but that period cannot be seven or 15 days.
Farman Ali, senior jail superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail, told this correspondent on Monday that once they received the SC order, they would ask Kamaruzzaman weather he would seek presidential mercy.
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 on February 19 issued death warrant against Kamaruzzaman.
As per the jail code, a convict gets a week to seek presidential mercy after the jail authorities receive the death warrant and communicates it to him. The death row convict is executed between 21 days and 28 days after receiving the SC order.
However, the jail code is not applicable to Kamaruzzaman as he was tried under a special law, the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act-1971, the attorney general told reporters on Monday.
He referred to the SC judgment on the review petition of Quader Mollah.
In its verdict on Quader Mollah's review petition, the SC said, "If the jail authority fixes a date for execution of the sentence, the same cannot be taken as has been done hurriedly. If any review or mercy petition is filed or pending, the sentence cannot be executed unless the petitions are disposed of.
"So, the period of seven days or twenty-one days mentioned in sub-rules (I) and (VI) of rule 991 of the Jail Code have no force of law under the changed conditions," said the SC.
Kamaruzzaman, key organiser of infamous Al-Badr force in greater Mymensingh in 1971, was sentenced to death by the ICT-2 in May 2013 for committing crimes against humanity, including mass killings in Sohagpur of Sherpur, during the Liberation War.
The SC upheld the verdict. But the convict sought review of the judgment. Finally, his review petition was rejected on Monday by the four-member SC bench headed by the chief justice. The other judges are Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik.
As the SC delivered the verdict, there were speculations that Kamaruzzaman might be executed on Monday. His family members met him at the jail in the evening that day.
No incident of violence was reported anywhere in the country yesterday, the first day of Jamaat's 48-hour nationwide shutdown. Vehicular movement was thin on major roads in the capital.
The Jamaat enforced the hartal from 6:00am yesterday, protesting what it said was "the government's conspiracy to kill its leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman."