Grenade attack on Bangladesh ex-premier: 22 suspects to stand trial

October 30th, 2008 - 11:22 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 30 (IANS) Twenty two people including a former minister and an Islamist militant are to go on trial, over four years after a grenade attack on a political rally of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina killed 24 people. Hasina survived the attack, but suffered serious eye and ear damage.A Dhaka court Wednesday framed charges against detained former lawmaker Abdus Salam Pintu, who belongs to Hasina’s rival Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), chief of the banned Islamist outfit Harkatul Jihad (HuJI) Mufti Abdul Hannan and 20 others.

Coming four years after the event, this comes as a political setback for Zia who is poised to contest the December parliamentary elections at the head of a four-party alliance of which the Islamist parties are constituents.

Zia was the prime minister when on Aug 21, 2004, Hasina’s rally, organised by her party Awami League (AL), was attacked with grenades, allegedly thrown from nearby mosques by Islamist activists. The attack killed 24 people including Ivy Rahman, wife of acting AL President Zillur Rahman, and injured 200 others.

Hasina was whisked away in a bullet proof vehicle, but was fired upon by unknown assailants.

This was the third known attempt on her life. She is now in North America for medical treatment, especially for her impaired vision and hearing.

On Wednesday, Judge Mohammad Masdar Hossain of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 rejected the discharge petitions of Pintu, Hannan and 12 others in jail custody, The Daily Star said Thursday.

The court fixed Nov 5 for trial of the cases - one for murder and another for the bomb blast - and summoned the complainant to appear before it on that date.

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