A special tribunal in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka has handed death penalty to 10 people for planting a 76-kg bomb in 2000 with a view to assassinating the then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Dhaka’s Special Trial Tribunal-2 Judge Momtaz Begum on Sunday handed down the verdict in presence of the several accused, who are members of a local banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI). Begum also sentenced one person to life term imprisonment and nine others to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment. Subject to confirmation of the apex court, the judge said the death row convicts will be executed in firing squad. The court also acquitted four other accused as charges brought against them were not proven.
The 76-kg bomb was found while a stage was being set up at a college ground in Bangladesh’s Gopalganj district, about 140 km away from Dhaka, on July 21 in 2000 where Sheikh Hasina was supposed to address an election campaign rally next day.The bomb was recovered by law enforcers before Hasina addressed the rally there. Of the 25 accused in the two cases filed over an attempted murder and explosives, HUJI chief Mufti Hannan has already been executed in another case for the 2004 grenade attack on then British high commissioner to Bangladesh. Defense lawyer Faruk Ahammad told journalists that eight accused are currently behind the bar, one has been granted bail while 15 others are fugitives.
HUJI ringleader Hannan was a key suspect in the plotting to assassinate current Prime Minister Hasina and blow up courts, secular institutions as well as shrines and churches. Hannan came in the limelight of Bangladesh’s politics after he announced at a public rally of Islamists in 1999 to establish a Taliban like government in Bangladesh by 2000. Hannan who was arrested in August 2005 confessed to an interrogating police about his bomb planting for assassination of the then opposition leader and now Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina in 2000. Hannan, who wanted to establish Islam Sharia law in place of the British-origin common law, confessed that he was the mastermind in the countrywide bombings on Aug. 17, 2005. Hannan had directly participated in the war in Afghanistan against the former Soviet Union. During the war he got a bullet injury in his hand and then returned to Bangladesh in 1995 and formed his militant group Harkatul Jihad, which was banned by the government. Hannan and his close aide Sharif Shahedul Alam were hanged in April this year for the 2004 grenade attack on then British high commissioner to the country.