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B'desh court gives death penalty to 19; sentences Khaleda Zia's fugitive son to life

Press Trust of India  |  Dhaka 

Khaleda Zia's fugitive son and political heir was sentenced to life and 19 others, including a former home minister, were given death penalty by a court Wednesday for their role in a plot to assassinate in 2004.

An attack on an rally on August 21, 2004 targeted Hasina, the then opposition leader, when she was about to finish a speech in front of thousands of supporters.

While survived the attack with a partial hearing loss, her party's and former Zillur Rahman's wife was killed in the blasts.

Special court awarded the death penalty to 19 people including former junior Lutfuzzaman Babar, ex-and several former army intelligence officers.

Rahman and 18 others were sentenced to life. Eleven others were jailed for different terms.

"They (who are sentenced to death) will be hanged by neck until they are dead," Justice Nuruddin said.

Thirty-one of the 49 convicts were present in the court while others including 51-year-old Rahman, now the as his mother is serving a five-year imprisonment in a graft case, are on the run abroad to evade justice.

Rahman was tried in absentia with the court declaring him a "fugitive". He now lives in where he is believed to have sought asylum though the British authorities have declined to reveal his immigration status.

He leads the main opposition Nationalist Party (BNP) from exile after Zia was jailed in February. Zia was not made an accused in the case.

Rahman, two former ministers and former top police and intelligence officials of the then BNP-led four-party alliance were among 49 accused in the case.

The also made 12-point observations on the background, motive and consequences of the attack, mainly targeting incumbent

"The attack was intended to eliminate the leadership, including Sheikh Hasina," the ruled.

The court had wrapped up the hearing on September 18 after a protracted investigation and trial process.

Investigations found an influential quarter of the then BNP-led government, including Rahman, masterminded and sponsored the attackers -- the operatives of militant Harkatul (HuJI).

Commenting on the verdict, general expressed the party's deep frustration saying it was a "politically motivated" verdict. "It's a naked expression of political vengeance," he added.

However, said Rahman, the mastermind of the attack, deserved the death sentence.

His Cabinet colleague and the ruling echoed him, saying "we are not fully satisfied with the verdict".

"We may take steps to challenge his (Rahman's) lenient punishment once we get the copy of the entire judgment," Huq said.

Those who were sentenced to death were fined Taka one lakh each. The must confirm their death penalty after a mandatory review.

Other political figures, who were given life sentence include former Zia's and former BNP lawmaker

Law enforcement agencies earlier covered with a security blanket while armed guards stood outside the courtroom in the old part of to quell possible protests.

A key-accused in the case, Mufty Abdul Hannan, was dropped from the convict list along with two of his associates as they were hanged by now after trial in a separate case.

"We are taking steps to bring back the fugitive convicts," told reporters as the verdict was announced.

The verdict comes ahead of the in December. had boycotted the 2014 elections.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 10 2018. 16:55 IST