Dhaka, Feb 4 (efe-epa).- A Bangladesh court on Thursday sent 50 opposition members up to 10 years in jail after finding them guilty in an attack on a motorcade of Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina nearly two decades ago.
The motorcade of the incumbent prime minister came under attack in August 2002, when she was the opposition leader.
Public Prosecutor Abdul Lalif said Judge Humayun Kabir, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Judge of the southern Satkhira district, convicted all the 50 accused.
The defendants included a former Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) lawmaker Habibul Islam Habib.
“The court found everyone guilty. Habib and two others were sentenced to 10 years in prison and others given different terms,” he said.
Habib was among the 34 accused who were present in the dock when the judge announced the verdict while 16 others faced the trial in absentia, said the prosecutor.
The prosecutor said the BNP leader and his followers attacked Hasina’s motorcade in the Kalaroa area of the district on Aug 30, 2002, when she was on her way to visit a rape victim.
The BNP protested against the verdict and termed the case against its leaders and activists as “politically motivated.”
“(The) Awami League government revived the case as part of the continuous attempt to destroy the BNP,” its leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told reporters in Dhaka.
It was the third verdict in recent years for attacks on Hasina when she was in the opposition between 2000 to 2006.
A court sentenced 19 people to death and another 19 to life imprisonment in October 2018 for their role in a 2004 grenade attack on Hasina’s rally. The convicts included including Tarique Rahman, the son of BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zía.
Tarique, exiled in London since 2008, faced the trial in absentia. He has been the acting chief of the BNP after his mother Zia was jailed in two corruption cases.
Another court in August 2017 sentenced 10 extremists to death and jailed nine others for 20 years each for attempting to assassinate Hasina in 2000.
The convicts had allegedly hatched the plot to kill Hasina in 2000 by planting a high-powered explosive device at an open ground at her village home in south-western Gopalganj where she was scheduled to address a public rally.
Hasina returned to power in 2009 after a general election and is now in her third consecutive term.
Her Awami League secured a landslide victory in general elections on Dec.30, 2019, while the BNP could only secure seven seats amid alleged fraud and persecution by the ruling disposition.
The BNP and the Awami League have taken turns in power in the country since 1991, except for a brief period of military rule between 2006-08. EFE-EPA