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Bangladesh executes three Islamists for grenade attack

They were also accused of carrying out the deadly bombing of a church

ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka

ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka

Published: April 13, 2017 10:06 AM GMT
Bangladesh executes three Islamists for grenade attack

Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami leader Mufti Abdul Hannan (center) is flanked by police officers as he appears in a Dhaka court in this file image taken on June 16, 2014. (Photo by Munir uz Zaman/AFP)

Bangladesh executed a top leader of a banned Islamic militant group and two aides on April 12 for their involvement in a grenade attack on a British diplomat in 2004.

Mufti Hannan, chief of Harkatul Jihad Al Islami (HUJI) and two accomplices, Delwar Alias Ripon and Sharif Shahedul Alam, were hanged after the Supreme Court dismissed their appeals and President Abdul Hamid rejected their pleas for clemency.

A trial court handed down their sentence in 2008 for attacking Anwar Chowdhury, then British High Commissioner, during his visit to an Islamic shrine in the north-eastern city of Sylhet in 2004. The attack left three people dead and injured about 50 more including Bangladesh-born Chowdhury.

The rise of HUJI marked a revival in Islamic militancy. The group, along with another banned outfit, Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh, is blamed for a series of deadly bomb attacks in the Muslim-majority country.

"Hanging is no solution to militancy although it can be an example in some cases. On moral and humanitarian grounds, militants need motivation for de-radicalization and life imprisonment could deliver that," said Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, chairman of Bangladesh bishops' Justice and Peace Commission. 

Hannan and his organization were also accused of the 2001 bombing of Gopalganj Catholic Church that killed 10 people. However, no charges were ever bought.

Nirmol Rozario, president of Bangladesh Christian Association, said even though Hannan has been hanged for another crime, Christians would still seek justice for the 2001 attack.

"It's been more than 16 years and we are still crying for justice over the bombing but police have failed to submit a charge sheet. The attack was a deadly assault on a minority group in and we demand everyone involved get exemplary punishment," Rozario said.

Amrito Sikder, elder brother of Monmath Skider who was killed in the bombing, said the hanging of Hannan delivers partial justice.

"I hope this ruling won't stop the case and police will continue to arrest his accomplices and ensure they all are punished," said Sikder.

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In the meantime, the government needs to support families of the victims, he said.

"Eight of the 10 dead were sole breadwinners for their families and they have yet to recover from the economic and financial loss. They desperately need support to survive," he added.

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