A court in Bangladesh sentenced a former minister to death on Wednesday in connection with a grenade attack in 2004, BDNews24.com reported. The court also handed a life sentence to Tarique Rahman, the son of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Rahman faced trial and was sentenced in absentia, as he lives in London. He is believed to have sought asylum in the United Kingdom. The court had finished hearing the case on September 18.
Nineteen people, including former State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, were sentenced to death. Another 19 were jailed for life. Babar was a minister in the government of Khaleda Zia from 2001 to 2006.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was among nearly 500 people injured in the grenade attack on a rally of her party, the Awami League, in August 2004. She was the Opposition leader at the time. The attack killed 24 people, including Ivy Rahman, the wife of former President Zillur Rahman. Hasina was the main target of the attack, investigators said.
Forty-nine people were accused in the case, including former ministers and police and intelligence officials. The investigation found that a section of the Khaleda Zia government had planned and sponsored the attack.
Security was stepped up in the country ahead of the verdict. Nearly 4,000 security personnel were deployed in Dhaka.
Zia is serving a five-year imprisonment in a graft case.