In 2000, a 76kg powerful bomb was found at a field in Gopalganj, where Sheikh Hasina, on her first term as prime minister, was meant to address an election campaign rally
A tribunal in Dhaka has sentenced 14 people to death for attempting to murder Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by planting bombs at an election rally in Gopalganj's Kotalipara in 2000.
Judge Abu Jafar Md Kamruzzaman of Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 1 pronounced the verdict on Tuesday in presence of nine accused.
Sedition charges were brought against the convicts, who are the members of banned militant outfit Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (Huji).
They are -- Md Azizul Haque alias Md Shah Newaj, Md Lokman, Md Yusuf alias Moshab Morol, Mosaheb Hasan alias Rashu, Md Anisul Islam alias Anis, Sarwar Hossain Miah, Sheikh Md Enamul Haque, Md Mofizur Rahman, Md Mahmud Azahar, Md Rasheduzzaman, Md Tarek Hossain, Md Abdul Wadud Sheikh, Mawlana Amirul Islam, and Mawlana Rafikul Islam.
Of them, Azizul, Lokman, Yusuf, Rashu, and Enamul are still absconding.
The court in its observation said: “The convicts planted the bomb to oust the democratic and legitimate government by killing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and leaders and activists of Awami League. The anti-liberation forces are continuing their conspiracies since their defeat in the War of Liberation.”
It also observed that they killed Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 and hatched conspiracies one after another to kill Sheikh Hasina since her return to the country.
“The tribunal believes that it is possible to stop the recurrence of such horrible and brutal incidents by giving exemplary punishments to the convicts,” it added.
The court ordered the execution of the verdict either by firing squad or by hanging.
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It also ordered the issuance of arrest warrants for the fugitives.
The convicts can file appeal petitions with the High Court against the verdict within 30 days, the court said.
Earlier on March 11, the court fixed March 23 for delivering its judgement in the sedition case after both the prosecution and the defence concluded their arguments.
On July 20, 2000, a 76kg powerful bomb was planted at Sheikh Lutfor Rahman Government Ideal College playground at Kotalipara, where Sheikh Hasina, in her first term as prime minister, was scheduled to address an election rally on July 22, 2000.
Another 40kg heavy bomb was also planted at the temporary helipad on the same venue.
Army men recovered the bombs on July 21 and 23 respectively.
ASP Munshi Atiqur Rahman of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) filed the case on September 23, 2000.
ASP Abdul Kahhar Akand of CID on November 15, 2001, submitted a charge sheet in the case.
Huji chief Mufti Abdul Hannan, an accused in the case, was dropped from the prosecution after he was hanged in April 2017 for killing three people in a grenade attack on then British high commissioner Anwar Choudhury in Sylhet in 2004.
The court on November 21, 2004, framed charges against the accused for committing sedition and plotting to oust the then legal government, create disorder in the society and panic among the people, the tribunal's Special Public Prosecutor Md Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan told Dhaka Tribune.
Earlier on August 20, 2017, the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 2 sentenced 10 Huji members to death and four others to imprisonment for varying terms over the same incident under the Special Powers Act.
On the same day, the same tribunal jailed nine accused for 20 years in another case filed under the Explosive Substances Act.