NEW DELHI (AP) — Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Sunday dismissed an appeal seeking the scrapping of a death sentence for the former head of a banned militant group over a 2004 grenade attack on Britain's then-envoy to Dhaka.
The dismissal by a three-member panel of judges means there is no more barrier to executing Mufti Hannan and two of his accomplices for the attack. Hannan was the top leader of Harkatul Jihad, which was banned by the government in 2005.
The latest judgment came in response to the appeal for a review of a December verdict that upheld a High Court rule that confirmed the death sentence.
Hannan and his accomplices are still allowed to seek presidential clemency, but it is unlikely that it would be granted.
Hannan and the two accomplices were found guilty in 2008 of orchestrating the attack against Bangladesh-born British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury while he was visiting a popular 700-year-old Islamic shrine in the northeastern city of Sylhet in 2004. Choudhury was unharmed, but the attack killed three police officers and wounded 70 other people.
In 2008, a trial court also sentenced two other associates of Hannan to life in prison in connection with the attack.
Hannan took the helm of Harkatul Jihad in the late 1990s. The group, formed in 1992 by Bangladeshis returning from fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan, has been blamed for many other attacks in the Muslim-majority nation.
Hannan was also sentenced to death for another attack in 2001 that killed 10 people during a New Year's celebration. He remains on trial for a 2004 grenade attack that killed 24 people and targeted current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was the opposition leader at the time. Hasina narrowly escaped.