B’desh court upholds death sentences for Huji leader, associates

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Dhaka
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2016 20:13 IST

A Bangladeshi court on Thursday upheld the death sentences given to the head of a banned Islamist group and two others for a 2004 grenade attack on a former British high commissioner.

A two-member panel of the high court comprising Justices Enayetur Rahim and Mohammed Amir Hossain rejected the appeal filed by Mufti Abdul Hannan, head of the Harkatul Jihad al-Islami (Huji), and two of his associates, said prosecutor Sheikh Moniruzzaman Kabir.

The attack was carried out on May 21, 2004 when the envoy, Anwar Choudhury, was visiting the Hazrat Shahjalal shrine in northeastern Sylhet city. Three people were killed and 17 others injured in the attack. Sylhet is the ancestral home of Choudhury, a Bangladeshi-origin Briton.

The high court also upheld the life sentences given to two others for the attack.

The five men were sentenced by a trial court in Sylhet in 2008.

The defendants can challenge Thursday’s verdict in the appellate division of the Supreme Court.

Hannan is known to have led his group in taking part in some other attacks to eliminate “enemies of Islam” from Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation but largely ruled by secular laws.

He is behind bars after being convicted in some other cases, including an attack on then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, during a rally in Dhaka in 2004. That attack left 24 leaders and activists of Hasina’s party dead and hundreds wounded.

Hannan’s group has been banned by authorities. The group, which campaigned for establishing Shariah or Islamic law in the country, had said it carried out the attack on the British envoy to send a message to the West that its representatives would not be spared after the killing of Muslims in Iraq and other parts of the world at the hands of American and British soldiers.

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