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Central & South Asia

Bangladesh rebel leader sentenced to death

Eight people, including rebel leader, Mufti Abdul Hannan, get death sentence for bombing in 2001.

Last updated: 23 Jun 2014 10:04
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The judge told the court that six others had been sentenced to life in prison for the bombing [AFP]

A Bangladeshi court has sentenced eight people, including a top leader of a banned rebel group, to death for their roles in a bombing in 2001.

The leader of outlawed Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (HuJI), Mufti Abdul Hannan, is among those sentenced to death. A younger brother of a former minister in the government headed by Khaleda Zia was also sentenced to death.

Judge Ruhul Amin told a court on Monday that six others had been sentenced to life in prison for the bombing that killed 10 people and injured dozens of others at a park in the capital, Dhaka, during the Bengali New Year celebrations.

Four of the accused were tried in absentia.

Ten of the convicts were present in the court when the sentences were announced, but they remained relatively calm, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Terming the judgement "government-dictated", Hannan said he did not get justice, according to the Daily Star newspaper.

Faruque Ahmed, a defence lawyer, said he would appeal the verdicts.

Authorities say the HuJI wants to establish Islamic law in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, a South Asian nation ruled by laws based on British common law.

The rebel group is also blamed for several other attacks, including an August 2004 attack at a rally by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was then the leader of the opposition.

At least 23 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in the assault, while Hasina suffered partial hearing loss.

HUJI is also blamed for failed attempt to assassinate former British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury at a Muslim shrine in May 2005.

Choudhury was wounded, but three people, including his bodyguard, were killed.

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