Dhaka, Dec 8 (EFE)- A Bangladesh court Wednesday sentenced 20 ruling party supporters to death for killing a university student in 2019 over a Facebook post critical of the government.
Judge Abu Zafar Md Kamaruzzaman of Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal gave five others life-term as he pronounced the verdict in a packed courtroom=, said public prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajal.
“With the circumstantial evidence, confession, CCTV footage, the prosecution could prove the crime of the accused beyond doubt,” Kajal told reporters.
According to the prosecution, the accused killed second-year engineering student Abrar Fahad of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) at his dormitory on the night of Oct.7, 2019.
The killing took place a day after Fahad wrote a Facebook post criticizing the government for a water-sharing agreement that allowed neighboring India to draw water from the Feni River.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed the deal in the same month during her visit to India.
Police recovered Fahad’s bruised body the following morning from the dormitory, triggering a widespread student protest.
Protesters allege that Fahad was beaten to death after a group of student activists took him away from his room.
A CCTV footage from the dormitory area showed seven to eight people taking Fahad inside a room, a student said, claiming to have seen the clips.
Four others later took him out, the footage showed.
Police later arrested 22 accused, all activists and leaders of the ruling Awami League-backed Bangladesh Chhatra League.
The accused were present at the dock when the judge pronounced the verdict. Three other accused are still at large.
“We are happy with the verdict for the moment. The day High Court will uphold the verdict and the convicts will be hanged, we will be fully satisfied,” Fahad’s father Barkat Ullah told reporters.
Nazrul Islam, a defense lawyer, said the accused had “no criminal intent” to kill Fahad and that they would appeal to a higher court against the sentence.
Prime Minister Hasina had promised to bring the culprits to justice regardless of their political affiliations, while United Nations was among the international bodies to condemn the killing.
Hasina’s government is widely criticized for its crackdown on dissent.
It passed a controversial internet law in 2019 that has provisions of life imprisonment for revealing state secrets and publishing “false or distorted” information. EFE