Bangladesh Court Charges 7 in Slaying of Japanese Farmer

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Dhaka
2016-11-15
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161115-BD-hoshi-620.jpg Bangladesh police stand guard at the site where farmer Kunio Hoshi was shot dead in Rangpur district, Oct. 3, 2015.
AFP

A court in northern Bangladesh on Tuesday indicted seven suspected members of a militant group in the killing of a Japanese citizen last year.

The seven allegedly belonged to home-grown group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which Bangladeshi authorities have blamed for the October 2015 killing of farmer Kunio Hoshi in Rangpur district, some 300 km (185 miles) from Dhaka. The 66-year-old Hoshi had been working for two months as an agricultural researcher before being gunned down by two suspects on a motorbike.

A year ago, police arrested three other suspects in connection with Hoshi’s killing, but officials dropped charges against them earlier this year.

“The court today framed charges against seven JMB members. Charge framing means the Kunio Hoshi murder trial starts today,” Rathish Chandra Bhowmick, a special public prosecutor in Rangpur, told BenarNews, adding that witness testimony would begin on Jan. 4.

The killing of Hoshi occurred less than a week after three men on motorcycle shot and killed an Italian aid worker, Cesare Tavella, in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter in late September 2015.

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the two killings, but the government attributed the attacks to “homegrown” militants.

In July 2016, IS also claimed responsibility for a terrorist siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in the quarter that left 20 hostages dead, including nine Italians and seven Japanese. But government officials have rejected these claims, saying IS has no presence in the country.

The indictments against Hoshi’s alleged killers occurred less than a month after seven men were formally charged in Tavella’s death, including a senior official of the Dhaka city unit of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Five suspects appear in court

In the Hoshi case, investigating police officer Abdul Kader Jilani said he had submitted charge sheets on July 3 against eight suspects. They were identified as Masud Rana, a JMB zonal chief for Rangpur, and JMB members Ishaq Ali, Liton Mia, Abu Sayeed, Sakhawat Hossain, Ahsan Ullah Ansari, Nazrul Islam and Saddam Hossain.

Islam was killed in a gunfight with police in Rajshahi on Aug. 2, while Saddam and Ansari absconded. The other five appeared in court on Tuesday.

On Nov. 13, 2015, Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested three men – Rajib Hasan Sumon, Naoshad Hossain Rubel and Kajal Chandra Barmanon – on charges related to Hoshi’s death. During a press conference, RAB alleged that the trio had confessed to killing the Japanese citizen.

Charges against the three were dropped and they were released in August, Jilani said.

“During the course of the investigation, I found JMB’s link. The Neo-JMB killed Kunio Hoshi - and I have submitted charges against seven JMB militants,” Jilani told BenarNews, referring to a faction of JMB.

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