TOP ULFA leader Paresh Barua, who is one of the most wanted militants in India, was one of the 14 people sentenced to death by a Bangladesh court on Thursday in the 2004 weapons haul case.
Barua, who now leads a faction of ULFA and is opposed to talks with the Indian government, was given the death sentence in absentia in the sensational case in which 10 trucks containing 4,000 weapons and over 11 million bullets were seized.
The court in Chittagong also handed the death sentence to two former ministers — Jamaat-e-Islami chief and former minister Matiur Rahman Nizami and junior minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar in the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government — and as many army generals. Two former army generals given the death penalty are then DG of the apex National Security Intelligence Brig Gen Abdur Rahim and former Directorate General of Forces Intelligence Director, Major Gen Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury.
All the accused were tried under the Arms Act for illegal possession of firearms and the Special Powers Act of 1974 for weapon smuggling. Apart from Barua, former additional secretary Nurul Amin was also tried in absentia.
“The Metropolitan Special Tribunal-1 has handed down death penalty to 14,” private news channel said soon after Judge S M Mojibur Rahman delivered the verdict in a crowded courtroom amid tight security.
The verdict came nearly a decade after the seizure of the weapons destined for ULFA hideouts in northeast India through Bangladesh territory. ULFA for long has had bases in the Chittagong area. Around 1,500 boxes containing submachine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, submachine carbines, Chinese pistols, 840 rocket launchers, 27,000 grenades and 11.41 million bullets were seized from 10 trucks in the early hours of April 2, 2004.
The court recorded the testimony of the accused in which he termed the charge against him as "false".
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