Conspiracy against Sheikh Hasina formed part of broader campaign of terror
TEN members of a banned Bangladeshi Islamist terror group have been sentenced to death by firing squad over the 2000 plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed.
Judge Mamtaz Begum sentenced the suspects, members of Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami, on Sunday in the capital Dhaka.
He specified death by firing squad, when most executions are by hanging. Defence lawyers vowed to appeal against the verdict.
Ten other suspects in the trial were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Prosecutors said two bombs were found a day before Sheikh Hasina was scheduled to address a rally at a college campus in the southern town of Kotalipara during her first term as PM from 1996 to 2001.
The group’s former chief, Mufti Abdul Hannan, was involved in the plot along with his associates, prosecutors told the court.
Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami has waged a terrorist campaign against the secular government over the past two decades.
The list of its crimes includes at least 14 bombings, assassination attempts and other attacks mainly aimed at Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party — along with the Communist Party of Bangladesh.
The group also supported ethnic Rohingya guerillas in neighbouring Myanmar.
Isis has claimed responsibility for many attacks but the government has rejected the claims, blaming them on home-grown extremist groups such as Jumatul Mojahedin Bangladesh.
Mr Hannan was hanged in April for his involvement in a 2004 grenade attack on a British envoy in Bangladesh.
He studied in India and Pakistan and fought in Afghanistan alongside the US and Pakistani-backed Mujahideen against the progressive secular government in the 1980s, before returning to Bangladesh.