Dhaka – A Dhaka court is scheduled to pass verdict Wednesday in the 2004 deadly rally attack that killed at least 24 activists of the then opposition Awami League, officials said.
The assailants carried out the grenade attack on August 21, 2004 on the anti-terrorism rally arranged by then opposition party apparently to eliminate the entire leadership of the Awami League, including its chief Sheikh Hasina, according to the prosecution lawyers.
Hasina, now the Prime Minister, narrowly escaped the attack.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police has chalked out elaborate security arrangement to fend off any untoward incident centering the verdict.
“The situation will be handled in an iron fist, if anyone tries to create any situation out of the verdict,” Asaduzzaman Mia, commissioner of the DMP told reporters.
The Speedy Trial Tribunal of Dhaka on September 18 closed the arguments after arguments of 118 days over two cases, filed after the attacks one for murder and the other under the Explosives Act, and set October 10 to pass the judgment.
The prosecution says they have been able to prove all the charges including planning of the attack, executing the plan, destroying the evidences, attempts to protect the attackers.
The then BNP-led alliance targeted the entire leadership of the Awami League to perpetuate power, said Abdullah Abu, a special public prosecutor.
The attackers used military hardware that included Arges grenades. The attack was carried out at the fag-end of the rally when the then opposition leader Hasina was delivering her speech.
A human shield saved her, but senior leaders like Ivy Rahman and 23 others were killed. More than 500 other were injured.
Investigators found 52 people involved in the process of planning and executing of the attack and destroying the evidences.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s senior vice president Tarique Rahman, now exiled in London, former BNP minister Abdus Salam Pintu are among them. The senior officials of the police and intelligence agencies were also involved in the grisly attack.
The banned militant outfit Harkat-ul Jihad was engaged by an influential quarter to carry out the plan, according to the investigators.
“Tarique Rahman was the mastermind behind the attack, whose main target was to kill then leader of the opposition and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina,” prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kazal said in his argument.
Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, a former lawmaker of the BNP, arranged meetings between attackers and plotters at Tarique Rahman’s political office Hawa Bhaban, he added.
A total of 31 accused including two former ministers faced the trial in person while 18 including Tarique Rahman were tried in absentia.
Seventeen others, including several intelligence officials were earlier declared “absconding” as they were on the run.
Eight suspects including three former police chiefs were on bail as the trial was underway. The court on September 18 scrapped their bail and ordered them to confinement in custody.
Top HuJI leader Abdul Hannan was among the three who were executed in other terrorism related trials.