A special court in Chittagong on Thursday awarded the death penalty to Paresh Barua, chief of the breakaway United Liberation Front of Asom faction, and 13 others, including two former Bangladesh Ministers, in connection with an arms haul in 2004.

The police had seized 10 trucks carrying weapons and ammunition from the state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd. jetty while the arms were being offloaded from two fishing trawlers.

Investigations revealed that the weapons were manufactured in China and were being shipped to the ULFA.

Paresh Barua and the former Secretary of the Industries Ministry, Nurul Amin, have been absconding since the recovery, and the court sentenced them in absentia.

Bangladesh Law Minister Anisul Huq hailed the judgment and said it would act as a deterrent. Assam Home Secretary G.D. Tripathi said the State government learnt of the sentence but he would not be able comment unless it got a copy of the verdict.

Sashadhar Choudhury, self-styled ‘Foreign Secretary’ of the original ULFA, said any sentence passed in India or Bangladesh was of no significance.