A court in Bangladesh has sentenced 10 militants of the Harkat-ul Jihad group to death by firing squad over a foiled bomb plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2000.
Another militant from the same group was sentenced to life imprisonment and another three to 14 years in jail.
Intelligence officials foiled the bomb plot when they detected and defused explosives planted near a school where Hasina was scheduled to address a rally, during her first term as prime minister.
Three days later another bomb was detected near a helipad where Hasina was supposed to land in a helicopter.
“They said they wanted to kill Hasina [because] she was not a good Muslim, and an agent of [Hindu] India, and Islam can be established [in Bangladesh] only by killing her,” prosecutor Shamsul Haq Badol told AFP.
Harkat-ul Jihad’s former leader Mufti Abdul Hannan was involved in the bomb plot, prosecutors told the court. Hannan was hanged in April, for a grenade attack on British envoy Anwar Chowdhury in 2004.
Hannan’s group is blamed for a series of bomb attacks during the 1990s and early 2000s, including the bombing of a Catholic Church in 2001.
Theophil Nokrek, secretary of Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission, said Christians do not support the death penalty but they do stand for justice and the rule of law.
“The grave sentence was driven by fear that with a regime change the legal justice system could be manipulated and criminals might walk out free,” Nokrek told ucanews.com.