Avijit Roy murder trial: Five Islamists sentenced to death in Bangladesh

Updated on Feb 16, 2021 01:18 PM IST

Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in February 2015 while returning home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair.

In this file picture, freethinkers and rationalists seen protesting against the death of Avijit Roy, a blogger and author, who has hacked to death by Islamists. (AFP)
In this file picture, freethinkers and rationalists seen protesting against the death of Avijit Roy, a blogger and author, who has hacked to death by Islamists. (AFP)
Reuters | , Dhaka

A court in Bangladesh sentenced to death five members of an Islamist militant group on Tuesday for killing a US blogger critical of religious extremism six years ago.

Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in February 2015 while returning home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair. His wife and fellow blogger Rafida Ahmed suffered head injuries and lost a finger.

Also Read: Cops stood close by when Avijit was attacked: Slain blogger's widow

“Charges against them were proved beyond any doubt. The court gave them the highest punishment,” public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said after the verdict, amid tight security at the Special Anti-Terrorism Tribunal in the capital, Dhaka.

Also Read| Avijit Roy murder: The fallout of Bangladesh's broken politics

The court also jailed one man for life in the attack, Khan said.

He said the six men convicted on Tuesday belong to the al Qaeda-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, which police say was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.

Also Read: Al Qaeda branch claims murder of Bangladesh-born US blogger

Syed Ziaul Haq, a sacked army major believed to be the leader of the group and who masterminded the killing, and one other member of the group were tried in absentia and received death sentences, Khan said.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a string of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by Islamic State or al Qaeda-aligned groups.

The most serious attack came in July 2016, when gunmen stormed a cafe in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka and killed 22 people, most of them foreigners.

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