The High Court has upheld the death penalties of 10 militants awarded by a trial court for attempting to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a bomb attack at Kotalipara in Gopalganj in 2000.
A division bench comprising Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim and Justice Md Badruzzaman passed the order on Wednesday, disposing of death references and appeals.The HC also upheld life imprisonment of a militant and 14 years’ imprisonment of two others and acquitted another of the charge.
All the convicts are leaders and cadres of the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji).
The death-row convicts are Asim Akter alias Tarek Hossain, Rashed Driver alias Abul Kalam, Yusuf alias Moshab Morol, Sheikh Farid alias Maulana Shawkat Osman, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badar, Maulana Abu Bakar, Hafez Maulana Yahiya, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hye and Maulana Abdur Rouf.
Mehedi Hasan alias Abdur Wadud was awarded life in prison while Anisul Islam alias Anis and Mohibullah alias Mofizur Rahman got 14 years in jail.
However, the HC asked the jail authorities to release Mohibullah from prison as he already served his imprisonment in jail.
Sarwar Hossain, who was given 14 years’ imprisonment by the lower court, was acquitted of the charge by the higher court.The name of Huji kingpin Mufti Hannan was dropped from the charge list as he was executed in Kashimpur jail on April 12, 2017 in another case.
Mufti Hannan was sentenced to death for carrying out a grenade attack in Sylhet, targeting former British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury. Three people were killed and Anwar Choudhury was wounded in the attack.
On July 21, 2000, a 76-kg bomb was recovered at Sheikh Lutfor Rahman Ideal College at Kotalipara in Gopalganj. The bomb was planted, targeting to kill Sheikh Hasina who was supposed to address a rally there the next day.
The then Sub-inspector of Kotalipara Police Station, Nur Hossain, filed a case under the Explosive Substances Act.
Munshi Atikur Rahman, the then Assistant Superintendant of the CID, submitted a charge sheet against Huji chief Mufti Hannan and 24 others on April 8, 2001.
Gopalganj District and Sessions Judge's Court indicted 25 accused on July 2 the same year.
It recorded statements of 40 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant of the case. The case was later shifted to Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-2 for quick disposal.
The tribunal awarded death sentence to 10 leaders and activists of Huji on August 20, 2017. It acquitted 10 others of the charge as they were not found guilty.
In its observation, the HC said the bomb was planted in Kotalipara to make Awami League leaderless.
Terming the planting of the bomb ‘an extended form of the 1975 plot’, the court said the culprits wanted to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the way they assassinated Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members.
The perpetrators of the 1975 attack damaged Bangladesh a lot and targeted Sheikh Hasina for blocking unprecedented socioeconomic development during her term.
The ruling Awami League has hailed the High Court verdict upholding the death sentence of 10 people.
AL presidium member Faruk Khan said they welcomed the verdict through which justice had been established.
“Bangladesh was saved as Sheikh Hasina was survived by the grace of the almighty Allah. Those, who do ill politics on the soil, will take a lesson from the verdict,” he told the Daily Sun.