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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Death penalty for Mujib assassins
Activists shout slogans outside the high court in Bangladesh
Angry protestors waited outside the court building
A Bangladeshi high court has sentenced to death 12 former military officers convicted of involvement in the 1975 assassination of the country's first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Mujibur - the father of the current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina - was killed along with his wife and 14 other family members when his house was attacked during a coup.

Police stand guard for security in front of the high court
Hundreds of riot police surrounded the building
The court said the former military officers should be hanged until death for the killings. Three others were acquitted of all charges.

Only four of those convicted are detained in Bangladesh. The others are fugitives abroad.

Judge Mohammed Fazlul Karim gave the verdict at the end of the nearly three-month long hearing.

Sensitive case

The court delivered its judgement on Bangladesh's most politically sensitive case in a crowded courtroom, while hundreds of riot police surrounded the building.

Those sentenced include eight lieutenant colonels, three majors, three captains and one soldier.

The convicted men are now expected to appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court.

The previous hearing in December was deadlocked when the judges confirmed the death sentences on 10 of the accused, but disagreed about the other five.

Murder case

Sheikh Mujibur was killed four years after he led Bangladesh to independence from Pakistan in 1971.

The coup plotters had accused him of corruption and imposing a dictatorship.

The murder case itself took 21 years to come to court, as for a long time the constitution legally barred the trial.

Sheikh Hasina's Awami League government cleared the way of the trial by amending the constitution after returning to power in 1996.

Nineteen officers in total were accused of assassinating Sheikh Mujibur.

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See also:

14 Dec 00 | South Asia
Split verdict in coup trial
04 Dec 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh coups under scrutiny
29 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
01 Mar 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Bangladesh
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