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A speedy trial tribunal on Wednesday sentenced 19 people to death and 17 others, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party acting chairman Tarique Rahman, to life term imprisonment in two cases filed over the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in the capital in 2004.

Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 at Old Dhaka's Nazimuddin Road pronounced the verdict around 12:13pm.

Those were awarded death penalty include former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and former deputy minister for education Abdus Salam Pintu.

Earlier on September 18, the tribunal fixed October 10 to pronounce its verdict in two cases-- one for murder and the other for grenade blast-- after both the prosecution and the defence completed their arguments.

Closing their arguments, the prosecution sought the highest punishment to all the accused, including Tarique, saying they were able to prove all the charges beyond reasonable doubt.

They also said Tarique masterminded the attack and helped extremists in order to kill Sheikh Hasina by throwing the grenades to make Awami League leaderless.

But the defence lawyers sought acquittal of their clients as they said the prosecution failed to present substantial evidence to prove the charges.

They also claimed that Tarique, who has been staying in London since 2008, was implicated in the cases with a political motive.

Earlier, the court set September 17 and 18 for hearing the closing arguments after hearing the prosecution's rebuttal arguments against defence arguments on September 12.

On October 23 last, the prosecution started placing arguments before the tribunal in connection with the two cases filed over the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in the capital in 2004.

Twenty-four people, including late president Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and over 200 were injured in the grenade attack on the rally of the then main opposition Bangladesh Awami League in front of its central office at Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004.

Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, escaped the attack but the explosions caused her hearing damage.

News Courtesy: www.newagebd.net

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