Ten Islamist militants get death penalty in Bangladesh



Dhaka: Ten militants of a banned Bangladeshi Islamist outfit were sentenced to death on Thursday by a fast-track court here after they were found guilty of involvement in a deadly suicide bombing in 2005 that claimed eight lives.

The court handed down death penalty to 10 operatives of the banned Islamist outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) for the 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed eight people, including lawyers, at suburban Gazipur.

"The convicts will be hanged to death," Judge Mohammad Motahar Hossain of Dhaka's Speedy Trial Tribunal said while announcing the verdict in a crowded courtroom.

The verdict was announced in the presence of the militants who appeared in court under heavy security.

Eight people were killed and 80 others were injured in the blast that occurred at one of the lawyers' room in Gazipur Bar Association office on November 29 in 2005.

On the day of the bombing, one of the JMB activists, wearing a lawyers' gown, blew himself up at the Gazipur Bar Association office.

Prosecution lawyers earlier told the court that the eight convicts assisted the suicide bomber in manufacturing the bomb, provided the blue print for the attack plan and aided him at the time of the explosion.

Under the Bangladeshi law, the death sentences can only be executed after the High Court has reviewed the verdict under automatic death reference hearing or through the appeals by the convicts.

JMB carried out the attack months after they announced their emergence as a clandestine outfit carrying out near simultaneous blasts in 62 districts in 2005 to make public their demands of establishing an Islamic rule of their brand in the Muslim majority Bangladesh.

Earlier media reports said beyond Bangladesh territory, the outlawed JMP operated in three cross border Indian districts of Murshidabad, Maldah and Nadia in West Bengal through some 100 full time operatives.

At least 28 people were killed in JMB attacks between August and December, 2005, alone.

In subsequent years, JMB has carried out a series of bomb attacks across the country killing scores of people, including two judges.

JMB pamphlets at that time said the outfit did not recognise the country's "Satan-inspired" government and the attacks were aimed at introducing Shariah law.

Security officials earlier said they had information that JMB spread its activities in Maldah as its "65th organisational district" while the 64 others were in Bangladesh.

Six JMB kingpins, including its founder chief Afghan-trained Shaikh Abdur Rahman and second in command Bangla Bhai, were executed in 2007 under an intensified security clampdown against militants ordered by the then military-backed interim regime that ran the country under emergency rules.

Officials said so far more than 350 JMB operatives have been handed down different punishments, including death penalties, though most of them await review in the higher court.

The country witnessed the growth of several Islamist militant outfits, including JMB and Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) in early 2010s, when Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led righting four-party government with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being the major partner was in power.

The situation prompted the BNP-led government to order a crackdown on the militant groups and hunt down their leaders while the subsequent regimes intensified the clampdown.

PTI