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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 15:03 GMT
Death for 21 Bangladesh 'bombers'
By Waliur Rahman
BBC News, Dhaka

Rapid Action Battalion members at the bomb site in Gazipur
The government blames the JMB for the bombing campaign
A court in Bangladesh has sentenced 21 people to death in connection with a wave of coordinated bombings last year.

The 21 were convicted of setting off six bombs across western Jhenidah district. The blasts were among 500 nationwide on 17 August last year.

No one died in Jhenidah, but three people were killed elsewhere. The judge said he had convicted the 21 on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

All 21 were members of a banned Islamic militant group, the authorities said.

This is the first verdict to be given in connection with last August's serial bombings, which occurred in all but one of Bangladesh's 64 districts in the space of an hour.

As well as those who died, about 100 people were injured.

More than 100 cases have been filed against members of the banned Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which the authorities blame for the bombings.

Maximum penalty

The special tribunal judge in Jhenidah, Ansur Rahman Khan, delivered his verdict in a high security courthouse where 18 of those convicted were present. Three others were sentenced in absentia.

One of the wounded in Gazipur bomb attack being taken to a Dhaka hospital
There have been a series of attacks in recent months

Judge Khan said he had given the 21 accused the maximum sentence on the basis of circumstantial evidence, and that there was no concrete evidence against them.

The men's lawyer said they would appeal against the verdict.

In another case, a court in north-eastern Sylhet sentenced a man to death for a bomb attack which wounded a judge.

The man was accused by officials of being a JMB activist.

Earlier this month, the JMB's top leaders, Shaykh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam, alias Bangla Bhai, were sentenced in absentia to 40 years in prison for a bomb attack which killed two judges last November.

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