DHAKA, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) — A Bangladesh court on Wednesday sentenced 19 people to death, including two former ministers, over a case of grenade attacks at now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rally in 2004 that killed at least 24 people.
Another 19 people including former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, the current opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) acting chairman, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The sentence also included jail terms for 11 others.
Amid tight security, Dhaka‘s Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 Judge Shahed Nuruddin delivered the verdict in capital Dhaka on Wednesday.
Twenty-four people, including Ivy Rahman, the women affairs secretary of Awami League and wife of the country’s former President Mohammad Zillur Rahman, were killed in the grenade attacks.
Hundreds of people including Hasina were wounded.
Fifty-two people were accused in two separate cases over the blasts. Of the accused, 31 including two Zia cabinet members and three former inspectors general of police are in jail now and 18 others including Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, who has been currently staying in Britain, are on the run.
In his immediate reaction to the verdict, Law Minister Anisul Haque told journalists, “Tarique Rahman was the mastermind behind the attack. And the main target of the attacks was to kill then leader of the opposition and Awami League (AL) party President Sheikh Hasina.”
He said “Tarique Rahman should be given death sentence because he is the main planner.”
Prime Minister Hasina also on many occasions held Khaleda Zia, her party and her son Rahman responsible for the grenade attack.
Zia, who is serving a five-year jail term in a corruption case, had earlier said political vendettas are to blame in her and her son’s prosecutions during Hasina’s incumbent government.
AL, which rose to power with a landslide election victory in early 2009 and won its second term in 2014, now eyes for the third consecutive victory in the national elections slated for December this year.
This time AL is facing challenges from Khaleda Zia’s BNP, which boycotted the 2014 elections as Hasina did not heed their demand for a non-party caretaker government to hold the polls. Enditem