DHAKA: Bangladesh has convicted 139 senior opposition party officials and activists in the past two days, prosecutors and lawyers said on Monday, as a crackdown on anti-government protesters intensifies ahead of elections.
Those convicted included scores of activists from the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), including on historic charges over protest violence, arson and obstructing the police, with convictions ranging from a few months to up to three-and-a-half years. BNP has rejected the verdicts as “baseless and politically motivated”.Two prosecutors said at least 132 BNP activists and senior officials were jailed by two magistrate courts in the country’s capital Dhaka on Sunday and Monday.
“Judge Md (Mohammed) Ataullah sentenced 70 BNP activists and leaders in four different cases Monday,” prosecutor Shahid Uddin said. “They were found guilty of arson and obstructing police duty”.
Uddin said the sentenced BNP men included its influential youth wing chief Sultan Salahuddin Tuku, two former student wing chiefs and a district wing chief.
“These cases are from 2013-2018 when opposition enforced strikes and blockades”, Uddin said. “They got jail terms ranging from six months to two years”.
Judge Mohammad Sheikh Sadi sentenced an additional 62 BNP activists to three-and-a-half years in jail each over a 2018 case, the chief public prosecutor of Dhaka, Abdullah Abu, said.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023