A Dhaka court has handed down death penalty to 19 people, including two former ministers, and sentenced a top opposition leader to life imprisonment over a 2004 attack on the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The special court awarded life imprisonment to Tarique Rahman, exiled son of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who is already languishing inside a Dhaka jail following her conviction in a corruption case.
Rahman, who is also the acting chairman of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was also jailed for 10 years in absentia in the same corruption case as her mother. He has been living in exile in London since 2008.
The security in and around the special tribunal in the capital, Dhaka, was beefed up anticipating protests from BNP leaders and activists.
Senior BNP leaders, including former State Minister of Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar and former Deputy Minister of Education Abdus Salam Pintu, were given capital punishment for hatching the plot to assassinate Hasina.
The ‘August 21 grenade attack case’, as it is known in Bangladesh, relates to the deadly attack on a rally organised by Hasina’s Awami League (AL) in Dhaka in 2004 when she was the opposition leader.
Hasina narrowly survived the attack after some of her party leaders formed a human shield around her, but up to 20 people were killed, including top AL leader Ivy Rahman, in the attack.