The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Shaikh Hasina at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. The Premier seeks closer economic relations with the UAE. Opportunities arising from her economic policies could benefit UAE investors. Image Credit: Alex Westcott/Gulf News

Dhaka: A tribunal here in Bangladesh on Sunday awarded the death penalty to 10 people for planting a bomb in 2000 to assassinate then opposition leader and now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Dhaka’s Special Trial Tribunal Judge Momtaz Begum gave the order in the presence of several accused from the banned Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI), which has been accused of planting a 76kg bomb, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The judge also sentenced one person to life imprisonment and nine others to 20 years in jail.

Subject to confirmation of the apex court, the judge said the death row convicts would be executed by firing squad.

The bomb was found when a stage was being set up at a college ground in Gopalganj district on July 21, 2000, where Hasina was to address an election campaign rally the next day.

Of the 25 accused, HUJI chief Mufti Hannan was executed for the 2004 grenade attack on then British High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

Defence lawyer Faruk Ahammad told reporters that eight accused were currently behind the bars, one had got bail while 15 others were fugitives.

Hannan was a key suspect in the plotting to assassinate Hasina and blow up courts, secular institutions as well as shrines and churches.

He came in the limelight after the militant group announced at a public rally of Islamists in 1999 to establish a Taliban-like government in Bangladesh by 2000.

Hannan, arrested in August 2005 and hanged in April this year, was also the mastermind of the nationwide bombings on August 17, 2005.

Hannan had participated in the war in Afghanistan against the former Soviet Union.