Five people have been awarded the death penalty over the 1988 police firing that left several dead before an Awami League rally in Chattogram's Laldighi.
The Divisional Special Court announced the verdict on Monday (Jan 20), said Public Prosecutor Mesbah Uddin Chowdhury.
"The defence did not present its argument as it was scheduled for [Monday] morning. The court then decided to give its verdict in the afternoon," he said.
The death row convicts are former inspector Gobinda Chandra Mandal, who was tried as a fugitive to justice, and former constables Mustafizur Rahman, Pradip Barua, Shah Md Abdullah and Mamtaj Uddin.
Three others accused in the case, then Chattogram police commissioner Mirza Rakibul Huda, and former constables Bashir Uddin and Abdus Salam died during the trial.
As many as 24 people died in the unprovoked assault on Jan 24, 1988, during the regime of former military dictator HM Ershad.
According to case documents, police opened fire on the motorcade when the then Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was on a truck and heading towards Laldighi Maidan to address a rally that day on 1988.
The attack was seen by the ruling Awami League as an “attempt to assassinate” Hasina.
After Ershad was toppled in a mass movement, lawyer Md Shahidul Huda started a case in 1992, but it did not proceed under the BNP administration that followed.
The case was revived after the Awami League assumed office in 1996.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was ordered by the court to probe the killing. It filed the first charge sheet on Jan 12, 1997.
The second charge sheet filed on Nov 3, 1998, following an extended probe, named eight police personnel.