Dhaka – Five Islamist militants were awarded death sentence for killing a Japanese man in the northern Bangladeshi district of Rangpur in 2015, officials said on Tuesday.
Naresh Chandra Sarkar, Judge of the District Special Court, handed down the punishment to the members of the banned Islamist outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh for the murder of Hoshi Kunio.
Kunio, a Japanese national who worked in a farm in the northern district, was shot dead by a group of unidentified people came by motorbike in October 2015.
The court also acquitted one people from the charge, prosecutor Abdul Makek said adding that the convicts were on the dock when the judgment was pronounced in the crowded courtroom.
The court set February 28 to pronounce verdict in the case after the conclusion of law-point arguments from both sides. A total of 56 witnesses were cross examined during the trial process after the court indicted seven suspected militants for the murder in mid-November.
One of the suspects was killed in gunfight in January an anti-militant raid in January.
The accused were Masud Rana, Isahaq Ali, Liton Miah, Abu Sayed, Shakowat Hossain, Sadaam Hossain and Ahsanullah Ansari.
The Islamic State militant group had claimed responsibility for Kunio’s murder, but the government insisted that home-grown militants were behind the killing.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh witnessed a wave of attacks claimed by Islamic State and al-Qaeda on academics, secularist bloggers, foreign nationals, priests, rights activists and people of the minority faiths in 2015 and 2016.
The deadliest attack was carried out on July 1 at a restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone – 20 civilians, including 17 foreign nationals, were killed. The security forces killed more than 40 suspected militants in anti-Islamist raids after the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery.