The High Court (HC) Wednesday upheld the death sentence for ten militants in a case over an attempt to assassinate Awami League President Sheikh Hasina by planting a 76-kg bomb in Gopalganj's Kotalipara in 2000.
After two decades of the incident, the HC confirmed the lower court verdict by settling the appeals filed by the convicts.
The lower court sentenced four more people to various terms including life imprisonment, while the HC acquitted one of them and upheld the sentences of the rest.
According to the case statement, each of the convicts had links to Harkat-ul-Jihad – a banned militant outfit in Bangladesh.
The HC bench of Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Md Badruzzaman passed the order in Bangla honouring the language movement martyrs.
The death-row convicts are - Wasim Akhter alias Tarek alias Marfat Ali, Rashed driver alias Abul Kalam alias Rasheduzzaman alias Shimon Khan, Yusuf alias Mosahab Morol alias Abu Musa Harun, Sheikh Farid alias Mawlana Shawkat Osman, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badar, Mawlana Abu Bakar alias Hafez Selim Hawlader, Hafez Mawlana Yahia, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hye and Mawlana Abdur Rauf alias Abdur Razzak alias Omar.
Upholding the lower court's 14-year imprisonment of Mohibullah alias Mofizur Rahman, the HC said if the convict has already served the sentence, he is being directed to be released if there is no other case against him.
Besides, the HC acquitted Sarwar Hossain Mia who was sentenced 40 years of imprisonment by the lower court.
Top Harkat-ul-Jihad leader Mufti Abdul Hannan was the main accused in the case. Since the militant leader had already been executed in another case, his name was dropped from the assassination attempt case.
Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League came to power for the first time in 1996. On 20 July 2000 towards the end of the government's tenure, a bomb was planted near the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's rally in Gopalganj.
According to the case statement, the bomb was planted behind a tea shop next to Sheikh Lutfar Rahman College in Gopalganj's Kotalipara upazila. The plot was to kill Sheikh Hasina by detonating the 76-kg bomb.
On 21 July, another bomb weighing 80-kg was recovered from Gopalganj Sadar.
Subsequently, Kotalipara police filed the attempt to murder case. After investigation, police in 2001 submitted the chargesheet accusing 16 people. Lawyers said trial in the case had been waiting for a long time despite the chargesheet submission.
After the Awami League led government came to power for the second time, a supplementary chargesheet was submitted accusing nine more people in June 2009.
The case was then sent to the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-2, and the tribunal passed the verdict 20 August 2017.
A week after the verdict was announced, the death reference and case documents were sent to the HC.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin, Deputy Attorney General Md Bashir Ullah and Assistant Attorney General A Mohammad Shaheen Mridha represented the state in the court while Amulya Kumar Sarkar was the state-appointed lawyer for the accused on the run. SM Shahjahan, Mohammad Ahasan, Emadul Haque and Nasir Uddin were the defence lawyers.