Dhaka, Feb 11: A Bangladeshi court today upheld the death penalty against three Islamist militants for a 2004 attack on the then Bangladeshi-origin British envoy to the country that left three people dead.
"The (lower court) verdict is upheld," presiding judge of a two-member High Court bench Enayetur Rahman said confirming the death penalty for Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and two other operatives of the banned outfit for their involvement in the May 21, 2004 grenade attack on Anwar Chowdhury, former British High Commissioner to Bangladesh.
According to the verdict two other HuJI operatives would serve life terms for their involvement in the attack which Chowdhury narrowly escaped with minor wounds. Three policemen were killed and some 50 people wounded as HuJI operatives exploded grenades when Chowdhury was on a visit to a Sufi shrine in north-eastern Sylhet which is also his birthplace.
A speedy trial tribunal originally tried the case and gave its verdict in December, 2008, also sentencing HuJI leaders Sharif Shahedul Alam and Delwar Hossain alongside Hannan. Hannan and seven other operatives of his outfit were earlier sentenced to death by another court in Dhaka for a deadly 2011 bomb attack that killed 10 people during Bengali New Year celebrations at a public park in the capital as HuJI considered the festival to be "anti-Islamic".
Twenty-one HuJI men including Hannan and an ex-junior minister of past BNP government are also being tried for a grenade attack on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2004. The then opposition Awami League chief Hasina narrowly escaped the attack that killed 24 people. The US earlier this year designated HuJi as a foreign terrorist organisation and "specially designated global terrorist".