A Bangladeshi court on Wednesday sentenced nine activists and leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party to death in connection with an attack on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 1994, Dhaka Tribune reported. While the court gave life sentences to 25 accused and fined each of them Tk 3 lakh (approximately Rs 2,44,537), 13 others got a 10-year prison term along with a fine of Tk 1 lakh (roughly Rs 81,512).
Hasina, who was an opposition leader back then, was travelling by train for a nationwide campaign when her coach was attacked after it arrived in Pabna district’s Ishwardy railway junction on September 23, 1994, according to PTI. However, she escaped the attack that was carried out while Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s was prime minister.
A total of 52 accused had been named in the chargesheet, of whom 33 were present in the court on Wednesday, five had died while the hearings continued, and 14 others were still absconding. Among those that received the death penalty were former Mayor and President of Ishwardi Municipality Unit BNP Moklesur Rahman Bablu, Pabna district unit BNP Liberation War Affairs Secretary AKM Aktaruzzaman, Ishwardi municipality unit BNP General Secretary Zakaria Pintu, Ishwardi municipality unit Jubo Dal President Mostofa Nur-e Alam, and BNP leaders Mahbubul Rahman Palash, Shamsul Alam, Shahidul Islam, Rezaul Karim, and Azizur Rahman, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
While defence lawyers voiced their satisfaction over the verdict, the convicts’ counsel dismissed the order, saying that they had been deprived of justice, The Daily Star reported.
“After a long legal battle, the court punished all 47-chargesheeted accused according to proper witness and evidence,” the newspaper quoted advocate Akteruzzaman Mukata as saying. However, Masud Khandaker, lawyer of one the convicts, said that they would appeal against the judgement “for the sake of justice”.