RANGPUR- A Rangpur court today handed down death sentence to five militants for the 2015 murder of Japanese national Kunio Hoshi in this northwestern district.
"They will be hanged until their death," Judge Noresh Chandra Sarker of the Special Tribunal in Rangpur pronounced as four of the five convicts were escorted to the courtroom under heavy security vigil at about 11.10 am.
Simultaneously the judge fined each of the convicts Taka 20,000.
The court, however, acquitted one of the six accused in the murder case of Hoshi, a Japanese farmer who set up a farmhouse in Rangpur while a fugitive convict was tried in absentia.
Masked motorbike mounted Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) assailants shot 66-year-old Hoshi several times when he was heading to his grass farm on the outskirts of Rangpur town.
The five convicts are JMB operatives Masud Rana alias Mamun, Esahak Ali, Litan Mian, Shakhawat Hossain and Ahsan Ullah Ansari while the acquitted one is Abu Sayeed.
Special Public Prosecutor Advocate Rothish Chandra Bhowmick told newsmen that the verdict came after the tribunal examined 55 prosecution and a defence witnesses during the hearing in 60 working days.
"After getting copy of the full verdict, we decide to challenge the acquittal of JMB operative Abu Sayeed," Bhowmick added.
Public Prosecutor of Rangpur Advocate Abdul Malek said the judgment observed that the JMB operatives murdered the Japanese citizen in a pre-planned manner to defame and destabilise the country and destroy its economy.
Defense lawyers Advocate Abul Hossain and Aftab Hossain in their instant reaction told reporters that they were unhappy with the verdict and would go to the higher court for getting justice for their clients.
Kawnia Thana police filed a murder case on July 3, 2015 and subsequently submitted charge sheet against eight alleged operatives of outlawed JMB on July 3, 2016.
On November 15 last year, the tribunal indicted seven JMB operatives for murdering Hoshi as the eighth presumed militant Saddam Hossain was killed earlier in an encounter with law enforcement agencies.
Later, another charge sheeted alleged JMB operative Nazrul Islam was also killed in an encounter with police at Rajshahi on August 2, 2016 leaving the six to be tried in the case.
Police, meanwhile, a massive manhunt was underway to track down the fugitive Ahsan Ullah Ansari alias Biplob.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)