Babar, Salam, 17 others to die; Tarique Rahman among 19 get life term

After a long wait for over 14 years, a speedy trial tribunal on Wednesday sentenced 19 people to death and 19 others, including BNP acting Chairman Tarique Rahman, to life imprisonment in two cases filed over the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in the capital in 2004.

Besides, 11 people were awarded different terms of jail in the sensational cases, said Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, reports the UNB.

Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 at Old Dhaka’s Nazimuddin Road pronounced the verdict around 12:13pm.

Those were awarded death penalty include State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, former Deputy Minister for Education Abdus Salam Pintu and then DGFI Director Major General Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury while then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Abul Harris Chowdhury is among those got life imprisonment.

Talking to reporters after the verdict, Kajal said they also sought death penalty for Tarique Rahman in the cases. ‘We’ll appeal against the judgment with the higher court,’ he said.

Meanwhile, defence lawyer Sanaullah Mia said they were disappointed at the verdict.

He said Tarique, Babar, Salam and others were sentenced ‘illegally’.

Replying to a query, Sanaullah said the verdict against Tarique will be challenged once he returns home.

Of the charge-sheeted accused, Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, and militant leaders Mufti Abdul Hannan and Sharif Shahedul Alam alias Bipul— were dropped from the cases as they had been executed after convictions in other cases.

Besides, Tarique, Harris Chowdhury, former BNP MP Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad and 15 others have been on the run.

Thirty-one accused, including Babar and Salam, were produced before the tribunal from a Gazipur jail before the delivery of the verdict.

They were brought to the tribunal from Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur in three prison vans around 11:20am.