Crime & Justice

8 Islamists sentenced to death for Bangladeshi secular publisher’s murder

Dhaka, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- A Bangladesh court on Wednesday awarded death sentence to eight members of a banned Al Qaeda-linked Islamist outfit for the 2015 killing of a publisher who worked with atheist writers and published secular books.

Judge Mojibur Rahman of the Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Tribunal fined each convict 50,000 takas (approximately $600) for the murder of Faisal Arefin Dipan, a prosecutor Golam Sharuar Khan told EFE.

The convicts belonged to the Ansar al Islam extremist group.

Dipan was hacked to death at his publishing house in the central neighborhood of Dhaka on Oct.31, 2015.

The killing occurred hours after another publisher and two secular bloggers were also wounded by armed assailants elsewhere in the Bangladeshi capital.

Dipan owned Jagriti Prokashani, a publishing house that had published works by Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy, who was killed in February 2015 in a similar attack.

The judge found all the accused, including sacked Bangladesh army major Syed Ziaul Haque, guilty of their involvement in the murder.

Ziaul and an accomplice remain fugitive while six others were present in the dock when the verdict was announced.

Prosecutor Khan said the court, in its observation, said the Ansar al Islam killed Dipan for publishing the book of blogger Avijit.

“The motive behind the attack was suppressing freedom of expressions and destroying the country’s democratic and secular character,” said the prosecutor, quoting the court observation.

The victim’s wife Rajia Rahman, a plaintiff, expressed her satisfaction over the verdict.

“We are grateful to all who were involved in the trial. Those who could not be arrested it is important for the sake country to arrest them and bring to justice. We expect that the verdict would be executed in quickest possible time,” she told reporters outside the courtroom.

Bangladesh authorities in 2017 banned Ansar Al Islam, which claimed responsibility for the killing on social media.

Ansar Al Islam is an offshoot of the Ansarullah Bangla Team that was banned in May 2015.

More than 70 people, including bloggers, thinkers, members of religious minorities, and foreigners, were killed in a series of targeted attacks in Bangladesh between 2013 and 2016. The government blamed local militant groups for the killings.

About 90 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people are Muslim, although the population has traditionally been labeled moderates. EFE-EPA


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