Bangladesh's highest court has dismissed an appeal seeking the scrapping of a death sentence for the former head of a banned extremist group and two of his associates for a grenade attack on the UK’s former envoy to the country.
The Supreme Court on Sunday upheld a 2008 order to execute Mufti Abdul Hannan, the head of the Harkat-ul Jihad group and two of his accomplices.
The trio was sentenced to death for masterminding the May 21, 2004 grenade attack that killed three and injured 50 others, including then British high commissioner to Dhaka Anwar Choudhury.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam has confirmed that a panel of three judges headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha rejected the petition that sought a review of the death sentences.
Alam noted that the appeal dismissal leaves the trio no further legal avenues to escape the gallows.
"Now there is no legal bar to hang them, unless they seek clemency from the president and the president pardons them," media outlets quoted Alam as saying.
In early March, Hannan supporters had attempted to free their influential leader by hurling bombs at police vans transporting the extremist leader.
The group, formed in 1992 by Bangladeshis returning from fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan, has been blamed for many other attacks across the South Asian country.
The militant group was blamed for a bomb blast in 2004 at a rally by then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, who later became prime minister. That attack killed nearly two dozen people and wounded more than 150.
Hannan was also sentenced to death for another bomb attack that killed at least 10 people during a Bengali New Year's celebration in 2001.
Bangladesh has suffered a wave of attacks in recent years. Militants have targeted atheist bloggers, writers, publishers and members of religious minorities.
In a deadly siege in July 2016, a band of militants killed more than 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, in a cafe in the capital, Dhaka.
Although many of the terrorist attacks conducted by local extremist groups in Bangladesh in the past year have been claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and al-Qaeda, the government of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says local radical outfits, particularly the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), have also been responsible.
Authorities reject the notion that global terrorist groups maintain a foothold in the Muslim-majority country of over 160 million people.
Since the bloody July attack in Dhaka, Bangladeshi security forces have stepped up a hunt for militants behind the spate of recent attacks across the country.