NEW DELHI (AP) — A Bangladesh appeals court on Thursday confirmed the death sentences handed to the head of a banned Islamist group and two of his associates for a 2004 grenade attack on a former British diplomat at a prominent Islamic shrine.
The court rejected an appeal by Mufti Abdul Hannan, the head of Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami, and two colleagues challenging a trial court's verdict, said prosecutor Sheikh Moniruzzaman Kabir.
The diplomat, Anwar Choudhury, was slightly injured in the attack on May 21, 2004, as he visited the Hazrat Shahjalal shrine in Sylhet city. The blast killed three people and wounded 17 others.
Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami said the attack was aimed at avenging the killings of Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere by American and British soldiers.
The ruling can still be appealed at the Supreme Court.
Hannan is known to have led the group's major attacks against what he called enemies of Islam in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people but largely ruled by secular laws based on British common law.
Hannan has been behind bars since he has been convicted in other cases, including another attack in 2004 on then-opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, now Bangladesh's prime minister.
The grenade attack had left 24 leaders and activists of Hasina's Awami League party dead and hundreds wounded during a rally in Dhaka.
Hasina had narrowly escaped the attack.