Asia

Bangladesh to hang 19 for deadly attack on 2004 rally

The scene of the 2004 attack, file pic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption More than 20 people died and hundreds were injured in the attack

A court in Bangladesh has sentenced 19 people to death for their role in a deadly grenade attack on a 2004 political rally in the capital Dhaka.

Those to hang include a former minister and deputy minister, both leaders of the BNP party which was then in power.

The party's current acting head, Tarique Rehman, was convicted to life in jail in absentia.

The grenade attack left 24 people dead at the Awami League rally. Its leader Sheikh Hasina is now prime minister.

Hundreds more were injured in the 21 August 2004 blast as Sheikh Hasina was about to finish a speech in front of thousands of supporters.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sheikh Hasina has been prime minister since 2009

Former state minister for home affairs Lutfozzaman Babar is the most prominent of those sentenced to hang.

The BNP says the case was politically motivated and aimed at destroying the image of party leaders.

Tarique Rehman's mother, the BNP leader Khaleda Zia, has been a bitter rival of Sheikh Hasina for decades. She was jailed for five years in February for corruption.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption BNP leader Khaleda Zia was jailed after being convicted of corruption