A Bangladeshi tribunal sentenced 19 people to death and the opposition’s heir-apparent to life imprisonment Wednesday for a deadly 2004 attack at a political rally of then-opposition leader and now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Agencies report.
Tribunal Judge Shahed Nuruddin delivered the hourlong verdict — interrupted twice by power cuts — at the court in Dhaka on nearly 50 cases stemming from the grenade attack 14 years ago that killed two dozen people and wounded nearly 300 more. Hasina narrowly escaped the attack.
Armed guards lined the streets outside the courtroom in the old part of the city.
Lutfuzzaman Babar, one of two former Cabinet ministers among those condemned to death, told reporters after the verdict that he was innocent. “God knows everything. I was not behind it,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s elder son, Tarique Rahman, received a life sentence for each of two conspiracy charges stemming from the attack. He lives in London and was tried in absentia. Eleven other defendants were given six months to two years in prison.
Rahman’s conviction could help Hasina retain power in elections due in December. Zia has been in prison in a corruption case since February.
Nuruddin said the defendants had 30 days to appeal the verdict to Bangladesh’s High Court.