Bangladesh sentences 10 to death for plot to kill Hasina

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  • Prosecutor says court punishes militants for planting 76kg huge explosive
  • Officials say accused wanted to kill PM for being ‘not Muslim, an Indian agent’

A Bangladesh court sentenced 10 militants to death on Sunday over a failed plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed by detonating a huge bomb at one of her rallies in 2000.

“The men were sentenced to death by a firing squad for planting a huge explosive near where Hasina was scheduled to speak during her first term as the prime minister in 2000,” said Shamsul Haq Badol, the prosecutor.

He said that the bomb was planted in an attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina, high-ranking leaders of the ruling Awami League party and dignitaries. The 76-kilogram explosive was detected and defused, sparking a manhunt for those responsible for the assassination attempt on the prime minister.

Police allege the operation was led by Mufti Abdul Hannan, the late leader of the Harakatul Jihad Al Islami, which perpetrated a string of attacks across Bangladesh in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Hannan, the main accused in the failed bomb plot, was hanged in April for orchestrating a grenade attack on Britain’s envoy to Bangladesh in 2004. The accused in this latest case wanted to kill Hasina because they said she was not a Muslim, and an agent of India, Badol said.

He said that another large explosive was found three days later at a helipad where Hasina was scheduled to land. Khandaker Abdul Mannan, another prosecutor, said that those sentenced to death were also implicated in other assaults, including a deadly bombing at a church and a festival.

Defence lawyer Faruque Ahmed said that the defendants would lodge an appeal through the jail authorities. “There are a lot of questions about this case. The defendants said they did not get justice,” he said. Hannan tried to kill Hasina in a separate grenade attack at a rally in Dhaka in August 2004, in which 22 people were killed, Badol said.

Hasina, who was the opposition leader at that time, suffered injuries to her ear in the carnage. A seminary teacher who studied abroad, Hannan fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan before returning to Bangladesh where he rose to prominence for a string of deadly attacks under his command.

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