HuJI chief gets death term for 2004 grenade attack on British envoy

December 23rd, 2008 - 11:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 23 (IANS) The chief of Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) and two others of the banned militant outfit were sentenced to death Tuesday for a grenade attack that seriously injured British envoy to Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury and killed three people in May 2004.A Speedy Trial Tribunal in Sylhet in northeastern Bangladesh convicted HuJI chief Mufti Abdul Hannan for the attack, Star Online reported.

Choudhury, a British diplomat of Bangladeshi origin, was hospitalised for long after the attack. He completed his term as the envoy earlier this year before returning to London.

The tribunal also awarded life terms to two other accused in the case - Mufti Hannan’s brother Muhibullah alias Muhibur Rahman alias Ovi and Mufti Mian Uddin alias Abu Zandal.

Besides Hannan, the two other sentenced to death are operatives of the outlawed militant outfit - Sharif Shahedul Alam Bipul and Mohammed Delwar Hossain alias Ripon.

Judge Shamim Mohammad Afzal of the tribunal started reading out the summary of the 110-page verdict at 2:25 p.m. in the presence of the accused who were brought from Sylhet Central Jail amid tight security.

Troops of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Detective Branch and other law enforcement agencies were deployed in and around the court area hours ahead of the pronouncement of the judgment.

All gates of the courts were also kept closed for hours and people were barred from entering the court areas.

Hearing the judgment, the convicts showed no immediate reaction. But while coming out from the court, all the five convicts claimed innocence, saying the charges were baseless.

Mufti Hannan said, “We are victims of a conspiracy. We would file appeals with the high court soon,” the web site of The Daily Star newspaper said.

Three persons - Special Branch Assistant Sub-Inspector Kamal Uddin, Habibur Rahman Habib and college student Zobayer Ahmed Rubel - were killed while the Bangladesh-born British high commissioner was hurt along with about 70 others in the grenade attack after Friday prayers on May 21, 2004, on the Hazrat Shah Jalal shrine premises in Sylhet city.

Bangladesh witnessed a sharp rise in militancy and violence targeting religious minorities since 2001. The government of then prime minister Khaleda Zia, having Islamist parties as component of her coalition, denied for long the existence of militancy, but acted after international outcry to ban the HuJI and three other organisations.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |