Bangladesh's highest court has rejected a final appeal from Mir Quasem Ali against a death sentence for murder during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Ali financed the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party.
A Supreme Court bench led by the chief justice rejected Mir Quasem Ali's final appeal for clemency, his lawyer Gazi M.H. Tamim said on Tuesday: "The chief justice in his verdict said the review is rejected."
The decision paves the way for Ali's execution, unless he is pardoned by the president, which commentators say is unlikely.
The Muslim-majority nation has recently been hit by a series of militant attacks, the most serious on July 1, when gunmen killed 20 - mainly foreign - hostages in the capital, Dhaka.
A war crimes tribunal to investigate cases originating from Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan in 1971 was set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010. It has been heavily criticized by opposition politicians, including Jamaat-e-Islami leaders.
Five opposition leaders, including four top Islamists, have been executed for war crimes in the past three years despite criticisms from human rights groups that their trials were flawed.
Quasem Ali's son Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem - who was part of his legal defense team - was allegedly abducted earlier in August in what his supporters said was an attempt by police to sow fear and prevent Islamists from staging protests against his father's imminent execution.
The UN on Tuesday urged the government to annul Ali's death sentence and to give him a retrial in compliance with international norms.
jbh/jm (AFP, Reuters)