A court in Dhaka today awarded death penalty to eight operatives of Harkatul Jihad (Huji), including its top leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, and life sentence to six for bombing to death 10 people during Pahela Baishakh celebrations at Ramna Batamul in 2001.
The court also fined the six lifers Tk 50,000 each, in default, to serve one year more in jail.
Thirteen years into the grisly attack, Judge Ruhul Amin of the Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court delivered the verdict at 11:45am.
To ward off untoward incidents, additional police forces were deployed in and around the court premises.
During the traditional celebrations of the Bangla New Year, 1408 (April 14, 2001) at the Ramna Batamul in the capital, several blasts near the main podium killed 10 people and injured around 50 others.
The death row convicts of the banned militant outfit are: Mufti Hannan, Maulana Akbar Hossain alias Helaluddin, Maulana Mohammad Tajuddin, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badar, Maulana Abu Bakar alias Selim Hawlader, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hye and Arif Hasan Suman.
Those who will have to serve life-term are: Maulana Abu Taher, Shahadat Ullah alias Jewel, Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid, Maulana Yahiya, Maulana Abdul Hannan Sabbir and Maulana Abdur Rouf.
Earlier around 10:50am, nine Huji men including Hannan, who are in police custody, were produced before the court for the judgement.
The five other convicts -- Hye, Bakar, Tajuddin, Badar, Shafiqur -- are still at large.
Among them, Tajuddin is brother of BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu.
The Criminal Investigation Department on December 30, 2008 pressed charges against the 14 accused in both the cases.
Earlier, the court recorded statements of 61 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant of the case.
Two cases -- one for the killing and the other under the explosive substances act -- were filed with Ramna Police Station in connection with the incident. It took the investigators over seven years to trace Huji links with the attack.
The case filed under the explosive substances act is stuck now. In 2009, the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 of Dhaka sought the Supreme Court registrar's opinion on whether both the cases could be tried together. The registrar is yet to respond to the tribunal.