The four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha pronounced the single-word judgement at the tense courtroom.

"Dismissed," said top judge, who is the first Hindu to occupy the post in the Muslim-majority country, about the final appeal of 72-year-old Nizami, convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of top intellectuals.

Court officials said the details of the order would be issued later in writing. Tight security was enforced in and around the Supreme Court complex ahead of the verdict, though unlike the trial court, the Apex Court procedures did not require Nizami's presence during the delivery of the judgement.

The Jamaat chief is now kept at a special cell for death row convicts at suburban Kashimpur Central Jail. Today's final verdict comes two days after the bench wrapped up hearing Nizami's petition, seeking a review of the top court's own previous judgement that had confirmed his death sentence.

Immediately after the verdict, Jamaat issued a statement calling Nizami a "victim of state-sponsored conspiracy" and called a day-long nationwide strike on May 8. "The government has taken a plan to kill Maulana Nizami in the name of trial of crimes against humanity as part of its political vengeance," the statement said. The Supreme Court's decision clears the final legal hurdle for the government to hang the Jamaat-e-Islami chief, who is now left with the only option to seek presidential mercy.

President Abdul Hamid, however, has earlier rejected two such prayers by 1971 war crimes convicts, including Nizami's top aide then, who were subsequently executed late last year. Jamaat was opposed to Bangladesh's 1971 independence from Pakistan and sided with Pakistani troops in carrying out the atrocities during the Liberation War.

At the time, Nizami was the chief of the party's student wing as well as the notorious Al-Badr militia force, manned by Jamaat activists. He was a minister in the past BNP-led four- party alliance government with his party being its crucial ally.

Two ministers of the same cabinet Salauddin Quader Chowdhury of BNP and Jamaat's secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed were earlier executed as convicts of 1971 war crimes charges.

Nizami is one of the last remaining top perpetrators of crimes against humanity as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government initiated a process to try the 1971 war criminals.

Attorney general Mahbubey Alam told reporters after the judgement, "Now there exists no bar in executing the verdict, once the court issues it in writing, which is expected soon." Several hundred activists of Ganojagaran Mancha, which was waging a campaign for the maximum punishment for war criminals, rallied at Shahbagh area in the capital to rejoice the verdict while 1971 members of 1971 victim families appeared in private TV channels to express their satisfaction.

During the over three-hour review hearing on Tuesday, the court heard both Alam and Nizami's chief counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain. In the Apex Court, the chief defence counsel appealed to the court to reduce his client's punishment, saying Nizami was not "directly involved" in mass murders, arsons and rapes despite being the Al-Badr chief.

Alam opposed the argument, saying Jamaat had sided with Pakistani troops in carrying out the atrocities during the Liberation War and as the Al-Badr chief, Nizami could not avoid the responsibility.

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