A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced 10 members of banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji) to death in a case filed over the bomb attack on a CPB rally in the capital’s Paltan 19 years ago.
Judge Md Robiul Alam of the third Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court of Dhaka delivered the 104-page verdict around 11:00am.
The 10 convicts are Mufti Moin Uddin Sheikh, Mowlana Sabbir Ahmed, Mowlana Shawkat Osman, Arif Hassan Sumon, Mufti Abdul Hai, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Jahangir Alam Badar, Md Nur Islam, Mohibul Mutakin and Anisul Mursalin. Of them, the first four are now behind bars and the rest on the run.
The court also fined them Tk 20,000 each.
Two other accused, Md Moshiur Rahman and Rafiqul Alam Miraj, were acquitted of the charges as the charges brought against them were not proved beyond doubt.
The judge said Huji chief Mufti Hannan’s name was dropped from the case as he was hanged in a case over the grenade attack on then British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Anwar Choudhury, in Sylhet on April 12, 2017.
On January 20, 2001, five people were killed and 23 others injured in the bomb attack on the rally of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB).
Following the incident, then CPB president Monzurul Ahsan Khan filed a murder case with Motijheel Police Station, accusing some unknown people.
CID Inspector Mrinal Kanti Saha, also the investigation officer of the case, submitted two charge sheets in as many cases to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court of Dhaka on November 27, 2013.
One of them was filed over the murder of five people and injuring 23 others. The other was lodged under the Explosive Substances Act.
The trial of the second case is underway at the same court.
Soon after the attack, police arrested 12 people. But the CID submitted its final investigation report in December 2003, clearing all the arrestees of the charges as no “correct, impartial, and reliable” evidence was found against them.
Following a petition filed by the CID in 2005, the home ministry ordered a reinvestigation into the case.
Yesterday, the court in its observation said the accused committed murders by carrying out a series of blasts at different parts of the country to ruin the country’s independence and democracy, and wipe out the pro-liberation forces.
The court said such militants should be handed exemplary punishment in order to protect the country’s independence and democracy as it became independent through the Liberation War.
“Islam is the religion of peace and truth. Allah has not given any right to any militant organisation or party to kill innocent people in the name of religion,” the judge said.
The accused blasted the bombs based on the assumption that the CPB men were “atheists”. They blasted the bombs to wipe out the CPB, the court observed.
Talking to reporters after the delivery of the verdict, AKM Sohel Ahmed, a witness to the bomb attack, said he was satisfied with the judgment.
Sohel, then president of Bangladesh Khet Majur Samity, was one of the speakers at the CPB rally.
He, however, said the accused should have been punished earlier.
Assistant Public Prosecutor Mohammad Salahuddin Howlader also expressed satisfaction over the judgement.A defence lawyer said they would file an appeal with the higher court against the verdict.