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Twenty people charged in assassination of Bangladesh leader

April 6, 1997

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ The government charged 20 people Sunday with assassinating Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader who won independence for Bangladesh 25 years ago. If convicted, they face the death sentence.

Prosecutor Sirajul Huq told a court in Dhaka that the accused _ many of them former army officers _ murdered Mujibur and 10 members of his family. He said Mujibur’s body was buried to destroy the evidence.

Mujibur Rahman _ popularly known as Mujib _ was assassinated after he introduced a one-party socialist system and assuming almost dictatorial powers.

Fourteen of the accused fled to Canada, England, Libya and Thailand.

The government has been trying to bring them back to Bangladesh to face trial, but does not have extradition treaties with these countries.

The previous government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia _ the wife of a former army general who came to power in a military coup _ gave some of the accused cushy postings in foreign embassies.

Sheikh Hasina _ Mujib’s daughter _ won elections in 1996 and ordered officials to speed up the trial of her father’s killers.