Tarique Rahman, the fugitive son of former Bangladesh premier Khaleda Zia, was sentenced to life and 19 others were given death sentence by a court here on Wednesday over the 2004 grenade attack that killed 24 people and injured 500 others, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004 targeted Hasina, who was the opposition leader at that time . Hasina survived the attack with a partial hearing loss. Security was tightened in the capital as the accused were brought to the court. Rahman, 50, was tried in absentia with the court declaring him a “fugitive”.
He now lives in London where he is believed to have sought asylum though the British authorities have declined to reveal his immigration status. Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka’s fast track Tribunal pronounced the judgment ordering Rahman to be sent to prison for life along with 18 others.
Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar is among 19 people who were sentenced to death. Rahman, two former ministers including Babar and former top police and intelligence officials of the then BNP-led four-party alliance government were among 49 accused in the cases.
The judge made 12-point observations on the background, motive and consequences of the attack. Investigations found an influential quarter of the then BNP-led government, including Rahman, masterminded and sponsored the attackers — the operatives of militant Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI).
Investigators said Hasina was the main target of the attack. Hasina was injured in the attack while party’s women front chief and former president Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman were among the dead.
Zia, who is now serving a five-year imprisonment in a graft case, was not made an accused in the case.