Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman was awarded life imprisonment on Wednesday by a Dhaka court over attack on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2004, according to media reports. The court also handed down death penalty to 19 people, including former State Minister of Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar and former Deputy Minister of Education Abdus Salam Pintu. Tariq Rahman was sentenced in absentia, as he lives in London. At least 24 people were killed and over were 500 injured in the attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004.

Nearly 4,000 security personnel were deployed in Dhaka ahead of the verdict. Tariq Rahman is the acting chairman of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and has been living in exile in London since 2008. He was sentenced to jail 10 years ago in a corruption case while her mother Khaleda Zia was jailed for five years in the same corruption case as her son in February 2018.

Hasina was opposition leader at that time and now she is prime minister of Bangladesh. Hasina survived in the attack with a partial hearing loss. 

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The investigative authorities, during previous hearings in the case, told the court that the attack was a plot to assassinate Hasina hatched by the BNP. According to the documents submitted by the prosecution, the attack was carried out by an armed group, Harkat-ul-Jihad (HuJI).

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The BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami coalition government, which was in power at the time of the attack, was accused of scuttling the investigation to protect the masterminds.

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