Bangladesh militants sentenced to death

Three Islamic militants who tried to murder the British ambassador to Bangladesh were sentenced to death today.

Three Islamic militants who tried to murder the British ambassador to Bangladesh were sentenced to death today.

Two others were given life sentences for the 2004 grenade attack that wounded High Commissioner Anwar Chowdhury and killed three others.

Judge Shamim Mohammad Afzal sentenced Mufti Hannan and two of his associates to death for the attack at a Muslim shrine in Sylhet city, 120 miles from the capital Dhaka.

Hannan’s brother and another person were given life terms, Public Prosecutor Fakhruddin Ahmed said.

Lawyers for the defendants – who were all present in court – said they would appeal against the verdicts.

Hannan was leader of the banned radical group Harkatul Jihad Al-Islami.

The militant outfit wanted to establish strict Islamic rule in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation governed by secular laws. It also sought to avenge the killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A hand grenade was hurled at the Bangladeshi-born envoy as he left the shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal after Friday prayers on May 21, 2004. A policeman and two bystanders were killed and 50 others were wounded.

Hannan, a radical cleric who is believed to have trained with Islamic fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, was arrested in October 2005.

Hannan is also accused of planning a deadly grenade attack on an opposition rally in Dhaka that killed 22 people and wounded 300 others on August 21, 2004.

Harkatul Jihad is also believed to be behind a spate of bombings at cultural events and cinemas across Bangladesh in recent years.

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