A Bangladeshi court on Tuesday night granted a last minute reprieve to senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah, staying his execution shortly before he was to be hanged for genocide during the country's 1971 liberation war.
"The Chamber judge of the Appellate Division (of the Supreme Court), Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, ordered suspension of the execution of the death penalty until 10.30 am tomorrow (Wednesday)," Supreme Court Registrar AKM Shamsul Islam told reporters.
The stay order came as jail officials prepared to hang Mollah, 65, at one minute past midnight. The family members of the death row convict met him for the last time earlier on Tuesday evening.
Mollah's counsel rushed to Dhaka Central Jail with a copy of the stay order issued at 10.15 pm, news channels reported.
The order was issued after Mollah's lawyers filed a plea seeking the hearing of their petition for a review of the apex court's judgement that handed down the death penalty to the Jammat leader.
The jail authorities said they have received the stay order.
The war crimes tribunal sentenced Mollah to life imprisonment on February 5 for his atrocities during Bangladesh's liberation War. The appellate division revised the verdict on September 17 and raised it to death penalty.
Based on the highest court's verdict, the tribunal issued the death warrant for Mollah.
Mollah was arrested on July 13, 2010, while the tribunal indicted him on May 28, 2012 on six specific charges for actively participating, facilitating, aiding and substantially contributing to the attacks on unarmed civilians, "causing commission of the horrific genocides, murders and rapes".
Image: Abdul Quader Mollah in police custody in Dhaka