In Bangladesh, eight convicted of murder of atheist publisher sentenced to death
Julhas Alam, The Associated Press
Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 6:22 a.m. EST
DHAKA, Bangladesh – A special court in the capital of Bangladesh on Wednesday sentenced eight Islamist activists to death for the 2015 murder of a publisher of books on secularism and atheism.
The judge of the Special Anti-Terrorism Court, Majibur Rahman, announced the verdicts in a crowded courtroom in the presence of six defendants. Two others, including the sacked military official Sayed Ziaul Haque Zia, are still at large.
The judge had previously issued arrest warrants against them. The prosecution said they belonged to the banned militant group Ansar al Islam.
In October 2015, suspected activists murdered Faisal Abedin Deepan of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house in a market near Dhaka University. On the same day, another publisher, Ahmed Rashid Tutul, survived a near-simultaneous attack also in Dhaka.
The two victims were editors of Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy, who was also hacked to death in February 2015 while returning from an annual book fair in Dhaka.
The judge said prosecutors were able to prove the charges against the eight defendants. He said they were acting against free thinkers with the larger goal of destabilizing the country.
Razia Rahman, Deepan’s wife, said she was satisfied with the verdict. The defense said they would appeal.
Tutul, who was seriously injured, flew to Nepal and ended up seeking asylum in Norway with his family.
“Yes, I just heard the news of the verdict. I wish we would one day know who this former army officer Zia is. Why he organized the attack and how he was sponsored, ”Tutul told The Associated Press in a message from Norway. “I think Bangladesh will take radical forces seriously and get rid of them. “
In 2015, several atheists, bloggers and foreigners were killed by suspected militants. A bomb attack in Dhaka on October 24, 2015, targeting minority Shia Muslims, killed a teenager and injured more than 100 people.
Authorities say the activist network shattered the activist network in a massive crackdown following a 2016 attack on a cafe in Dhaka in which 22 people, including 17 foreigners, died along with five assailants. .
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and others, but the government of Bangladesh said national groups supported them and insisted IS was not present in the country.