Published: Thu, October 11, 2018

Bangladesh court sentences 19 to death over 2004 attack

Bangladesh court sentences 19 to death over 2004 attack

Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar is among 19 people who were sentenced to death.

A Bangladesh court on Wednesday sentenced 19 people to death over a 2004 grenade attack on the current prime minister, although a top opposition leader escaped with a life sentence. "The law takes its own course", Nojib said after the delivery of the verdict in grenade attack case.

The security in and around the special tribunal in the capital, Dhaka, was beefed up anticipating protests from BNP leaders and activists.

Hundreds more were injured in the 21 August 2004 blast as Sheikh Hasina was about to finish a speech in front of thousands of supporters.

Nuruddin said Wednesday that the attack was meant to eliminate the Awami League leadership, including Hasina.

Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to life, 19 others were given death sentence by court.

Tariq Rahman is the acting chairman of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and has been living in exile in London since 2008. Eleven other defendants were given six months to two years in prison.

Rahman's conviction could help Hasina retain power in elections due in December. He was sentenced to jail 10 years ago in a corruption case while her mother Khaleda Zia was jailed for five years in the same corruption case as her son in February 2018. Babar was a minister in the government of Khaleda Zia from 2001 to 2006.

Zia faces more than 30 other charges, ranging from corruption to sedition, which her party has denounced as a government effort to keep her out of the elections.

"We hoped that Tarique Rahman would get the death sentence", he said, adding the court observed that Rahman played a key role in the attack.

The BNP says the case was politically motivated and aimed at destroying the image of party leaders.

The government has denied the allegations.

Bangladeshi politics are deeply divided, with rivals Hasina and Zia, both from political dynasties, alternately ruling the country since 1991, when democracy was restored.

After Wednesday's verdict, prosecutors said they were considering asking the higher court to consider a harsher sentence for Rahman and others.

The party plans to challenge the court verdict, its lawyer, Sanaullah Mian, said.

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