The five are members of an armed group accused of killing Avijit Roy, an American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, in February 2015.
A Bangladesh court has sentenced five members of an armed group to death for killing an American blogger critical of religious extremism six years ago. A man has been sentenced to life in prison.
Avijit Roy, an American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, was hacked to death by attackers armed with machetes in February 2015 as he returned home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair. His wife and blogger colleague Rafida Ahmed suffered a head injury and lost a finger.
Prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said the six men sentenced on Tuesday were from the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Ullah Bangla Team armed group, which police say was behind the killings of many secular activists and bloggers.
“The charges against them have been proven beyond doubt. The court handed them the highest sentence, ”Khan said after the verdict amid heightened security at the Special Anti-Terrorism Court in the capital, Dhaka.
Syed Ziaul Haq, a sacked army major who is believed to be the leader of the group and orchestrated the murder, and another member of the group were tried in absentia and sentenced to death, Khan said.
Nazrul Islam, the defense attorney for the six men, said they would appeal the convictions to the higher court.
Bangladesh saw a series of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by armed groups linked to the armed group ISIL (ISIS) or al-Qaeda.
Roy had founded a popular Bengali-language blog – Mukto-mona, or Free Mind – in which articles on scientific reasoning and religious extremism featured prominently.
The most serious attack took place in July 2016, when gunmen stormed a cafe in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka and killed 22 people.
After the siege of the cafe, more than 100 suspected members of armed groups were killed and hundreds more were arrested as the government cracked down on these groups to preserve its image as a moderate Muslim nation.
In November 2019, seven people were sentenced to death for the murderous siege of Dhaka.