A Dhaka court has jailed 11 Freedom Party members, including Bangabandhu assassin Abdur Rashid, for 20 years each for an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 1989.
On the night of Aug 10, 1989, attackers hurled bombs and opened fire on Awami League chief Hasina’s house at Dhanmondi 32. She was at home at the time.
The investigators identified leaders and activists of the Freedom Party, founded by the self-proclaimed assassins of Hasina’s father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, involved in the attack.
The twelve accused in the case were Golam Sarwar alias ‘Mamun’, Joj Mia, Freedom Sohel, Syed Nazmul Maksud Murad, Gazi Imam Hossain, Khandaker Amirul Islam Kajal, Mizanur Rahman, Humayun Kabir, Md Shahjahan Balu, Abdur Rashid, Zafar Ahmad and H Kabir.
Retired Lt Col Abdur Rashid had previously been sentenced to death for the murder of Bangabandhu.
The judge sentenced 11 of the 12 suspects to 10 years in each of two cases and stated that the sentences could not be served concurrently. This means each of the 11 convicts will be imprisoned for 20 years.
One suspect, Humayun Kabir, was acquitted by the court.
Rashid, Ahmad and Kabir are currently absconding. Hossain, Kajal and Mizanur, were out on bail but, were in court to hear the verdict. Mamun, Sohel, Murad and Joj Mia were brought to court from prison.
The court waited for Shahjahan Balu, who had been out on bail, but proceeded after he failed to show.
The verdict had taken 28 years to arrive because of the inactivity of police, Abdullah Abu, the chief counsel for the state, told bdnews24.com on Oct 16.
Police Constable Zahirul Islam, who was on duty at the Bangabandhu Bhaban, now Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, started a case over the attack during the military regime of HM Ershad.
In the case, he said a team of 10 to 12 led by Freedom Party members Kajal and Kabir carried out the attack.
The attackers raised slogans like ‘Col Faruque-Rashid Zindabad’ while fleeing, he said.
The case proceedings did not gain pace when the BNP came to power after the ouster of Ershad.
Police charged 12 in court on Feb 20, 1997 after the Awami League returned to power.
The case proceedings lost pace again after the BNP came back to power in 2001. Charges were framed against the 12 accused on July 5, 2009, after the Awami League took power again.
Lawyer Abu told bdnews24.com that one of the two cases was filed on charges of attempted murder and the other under the Explosives Act.
According to Awami League leaders, assailants have made attempts on Hasina’s life 19 times after the killings of Bangabandhu and most members of the family on Aug 15, 1975.
Earlier in August this year, 10 people were sentenced to death in one of the Hasina assassination bid cases.
The convicts plotted to kill Hasina by planting a huge bomb on the ground of a rally she had been scheduled to address in July 2010.