A Bangladesh court was due to decide Thursday whether the convicted killers of the nation's founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, assassinated more than three decades ago, should go to the gallows.
Security has been stepped up across Dhaka ahead of the expected decision, particularly in diplomatic zones, courts and key government buildings.
"We've taken special security precautions by deploying more than 10,000 extra policemen in the capital," Dhaka police chief Shahidul Haq told AFP. "Some individuals are also getting extra protection."
The court is slated to rule on an appeal filed by five of the men found guilty in 2001 of the murder of Rahman, known as Sheikh Mujib -- the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Sheikh Mujib was gunned down at his home, along with his wife and three sons, in a coup on August 15, 1975.
The state's lawyers urged during the 30-day appeal hearing, which began on October 5, that the Supreme Court uphold the judgement which decreed the death penalty.
"We are asking the court to uphold the verdict. These people not only killed the father of the nation -- they changed the course of this country's history for the worse," Syed Anisul Haque, chief state counsel told AFP.
If the ruling goes against the men, they face death by hanging.
The highly politically sensitive case has been in limbo for the past eight years.
In total, 20 people including domestic staff, were killed on the night of Sheikh Mujib's death, though the men have been convicted only of the politician's killing.
Hasina, who escaped death because she was abroad at the time with her sister, has said she wants "nothing but justice."
Sheikh Mujib led the country to independence in 1971 after a bloody war against Pakistan.
He was the head of the government when army officers stormed his house and slew him.
The case was first heard in 1996 when Hasina became premier for the first time and removed a legal barrier enacted by the post-Mujib government to protect the killers.
At that time, 15 men were found guilty and sentenced to death, but three were acquitted in 2001.
Of the remaining 12, five appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, six are in hiding and one is believed to have died in Zimbabwe.
The appeals of the five were put on hold after Hasina lost power in 2001 to her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, under whose government the courts failed to process the case.
Legal proceedings were reactivated after Hasina regained power early this year following parliamentary elections.
Hasina had accused Zia's late husband Ziaur Rahman, who was the deputy army chief under Sheikh Mujib, of playing a role in the murder -- a viewpoint stemming partially from the diplomatic postings gifted to her father's killers when he became the country's leader in November 1975.
Law professor Shahdeen Malik at BRAC University in Dhaka said although the verdict could heal some wounds, it would also "raise questions about the failure to hear the case for such a long time."
Hasina last week warned lawmakers to be united and alert for "untoward incidents" as the appeals hearings drew to a conclusion.
Her government has said it believes at least one of two bombs in the city last month was linked to the trial, with an MP who is also legal counsel for the state in the trial targeted but not injured in an attack on October 21.
The UN, meanwhile, issued a blanket security warning for all staff, while the British Foreign Office told its staff and their families to stay within the diplomatic boundary in Dhaka a day before and a day after the verdict.
"It is felt that this could lead to widespread protests and rallies forming throughout the city," a memo to members of the British community in Dhaka said.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition