The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the death penalties for three Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji) militants, including its chief Mufti Abdul Hannan, for carrying out a grenade attack on then UK envoy in Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury in 2004.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, delivered the verdict in the grenade attack case after dismissing the convicts' appeals.
The two other condemned operatives of the banned militant outfit are Sharif Shahedul Alam Bipul and Delwar Hossain Ripon.
Mufti Hannan faces 24 other criminal cases, including those filed in connection with the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally on the capital's Bangabandhu Avenue. The attack left 24 people killed and around 300 injured.
The 24 cases are now under trial.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the apex court upheld the Huji leaders' death sentences as they directly took part in the attack on Anwar Choudhury at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (RA) in Sylhet.
The jail authorities can start the process of executing Hannan, Bipul and Delwar after receiving the certified copy of the SC verdict, he said.
The convicts will be hanged within three weeks after the verdict's certified copy reaches the jail authorities. But the process would remain postponed if the convicts file review petitions with the apex court, added the attorney general.
The three convicts will have to submit review petitions, if they choose to, in 30 days after receiving the full verdict.
Mahbubey Alam hoped the SC will release the full judgment in a week. He said the SC may dispose of the probable review petitions in a day or two after hearing those.
According to the country's top law official, the life imprisonments of two other convicted Huji members -- Muhibullah alias Muhibur Rahman alias Ovi and Mufti Main Uddin alias Abu Zandal -- will remain in force as they did not move any appeal before the SC against their convictions and sentences.
The two can move appeals before the SC, but they will have to explain the reasons for the delay in filing the appeals, said the lawyer.
All the five convicts are now behind bars.
Mohammad Ali, lawyer for Hannan and Bipul, told reporters that they will move petitions before the apex court seeking review of its judgment.
On May 21, 2004, three people were killed and around 70 others, including Anwar Choudhury, hurt in the grenade attack at the Sylhet shrine after Juma prayers.
The Bangladesh-born British diplomat, then barely 18 days into his new assignment, suffered minor leg injuries.
The Sylhet Divisional Speedy Trial Tribunal on December 23, 2008, had sentenced Mufti Hannan, Bipul and Ripon to death, and Ovi and Abu Zandal to life imprisonment in the case.
The HC on February 11 this year confirmed the capital punishments for the three and upheld the life sentences of Ovi and Abu Zandal.
Mufti Hannan and Bipul later filed appeals with the SC challenging the HC verdict.
The SC appointed lawyer Helal Uddin Mollah to defend Delwar in the case as he did not submit any appeal.