B’desh arms case: Ex-ministers, ULFA leader get death penalty

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ULFA’s military wing chief Paresh Baruah
ULFA’s military wing chief Paresh Baruah

Dhaka, Jan 30 (PTI): A Bangladeshi court today handed down death penalty to 14 people, including the Jamaat-e-Islami chief and a top leader of India’s separatist outfit ULFA, in the country’s biggest ever weapons haul case, nearly 10 years after the seizure took place.

“The Metropolitan Special Tribunal-1 has handed down death penalty 14,” the private Samoy TV said soon after Judge SM Mojibur Rahman delivered the verdict in the crowded courtroom amid tight security.

United Liberation Front of Assam’s (ULFA) military wing chief Paresh Barua was sentenced to death in absentia in the sensational 10-truck arms haul case.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief and former minister Matiur Rahman Nizami and ex-junior minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar in the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led rightwing government were also sentenced to death.

Only two of the convicts, Barua and former additional secretary Nurul Amin, were tried in absentia.

The two former generals who were given death penalty are the then DG of the apex National Security Intelligence (NSI) ex-brigadier general Abdur Rahim and former director of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence ex-major general Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, who later became the NSI chief.

All the accused were tried under the Arms Act for illegal possession of firearms and the Special Powers Act, 1974 for weapon smuggling. Security and law enforcement agencies enforced a tight vigil as the court in south-eastern port city of Chittagong delivered the verdict.

The verdict comes nearly a decade after the “accidental” seizure of 10-truck loads of weapons destined to the ULFA hideouts in north-eastern India through Bangladesh territory.

Around 1,500 boxes containing submachine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, submachine carbines, Chinese pistols, rocket launchers, 27,000 grenades and 11.41 million bullets were seized from 10 trucks on the early hours of April 2, 2004.

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