Forty-three convicts today filed three separate appeals with the High Court seeking acquittal of the charges in the case over the attack on a train carrying the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina in Pabna’s Ishwardi 25 years ago.
Among the convicted appellants, who are now in jail, eight were sentenced to death, 22 were sentenced to life imprisonment and 13 were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by the lower court concerned, their lawyer Barrister Kayser Kamal told The Daily Star.
Citing from the appeals, the lawyer said the verdict delivered by the lower court is politically motivated as the accused are local BNP leaders and activists.
The judge concerned of the trial court did not take the defence evidence into account and entire judgment relied on the statements of 12 interested prosecution witnesses who are the former Awami League ministers and local lawmakers and activists, Barrister Kayser Kamal said.
He also said the independent witness did not support the statements made by the interested prosecution witnesses.
The defence lawyer said the HC will hold hearing the appeals on due time.
On July 3 this year, a Pabna court convicted and sentenced nine people to death, life imprisonment to 25, and 10 years rigorous imprisonment to 13 others in the case filed under the Explosives Substances Act, 1908.
All the convicts are leaders and activists of local BNP and its front organisations, Jahirul Islam, office secretary of Pabna district BNP, told The Daily Star.
On September 23, 1994, Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, was travelling from Khulna to Saidpur by train and addressed several rallies at different railway stations on the way.
As the train reached Paksey station in Ishwardi, it came under attack. Crude bombs were hurled and shots fired. The attack continued till the train reached Ishwardi station. Many were injured while the AL president was unhurt.
Following the attack, Nazrul Islam, the then officer-in-charge of Ishwardi General Railway Police Station, filed a case against five members of the BNP and its associate bodies.