Bangladesh Court Condemns 5 to Die for Japanese Man’s Killing

Jesmin Papri
170228-BD-hoshi-620.jpg Four of the defendants who received capital punishment for the killing of Japanese national Kunio Hoshi in 2015 are transported to prison after their sentencings, Feb. 28, 2017.
Newsroom photo

A Bangladeshi court Tuesday convicted and sentenced to death five members of the banned militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) for the October 2015 murder of a Japanese farmer who lived in the country’s northern region.

A special panel of judges in Rangpur district handed down the sentences after hearing from 55 prosecution witnesses during the 16-month case. In condemning five of the defendants to the gallows, the court declared that the murder of Japanese national Kunio Hoshi was aimed at “making the country unstable and crippling the economy.”

A sixth suspect was acquitted.

Gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed Hoshi, 66, on Oct. 3, 2015, in Alutari village in the northern Rangpur district. Hoshi, an agricultural researcher and convert to Islam, had been living in Rangpur since August of that year and planned to cultivate a species of grass used for poultry feed.

Less than a week earlier, Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was shot dead in Dhaka. The extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for both killings, but government officials denied that IS was present in Bangladesh.

The targeted back-to-back killings led many countries to issue travel alerts for Bangladesh.

Eight suspects

Police submitted charge sheets against eight suspects in Hoshi’s killing on July 3, 2016. Two were killed in a shootout with police and five of the other six suspects appeared in court for sentencing on Tuesday.

JMB Rangpur regional commander Masud Rana (alias Mamun or Montri), 33, Liton Mia (alias Rafique), 32, Isahaq Ali, 34, Sakhwat Hossain, 30, and fugitive Ahsan Ullah Ansari (alias Biplob), 24, were sentenced to death. The charge sheet names Rana as the shooter.

A sixth suspect, Abu Sayeed, 28, was acquitted, prosecutor Rothi Chandra Bhowmick Babusona told reporters. He said lawyers would decide whether to appeal Sayeed’s acquittal after examining relevant documents.

Analysts call outcome positive

Security analysts deemed the court action positive for the country as it would allow other countries to have confidence in Bangladesh’s justice system.

“The image of the country has been associated with the killing of foreigners. Because the investigation and trial ended expeditiously, this will assure people from other countries,” retired Brig. Gen. Sakhawat Hossain, a security analyst, told BenarNews. “This means that the government is tough. These developments certainly give a positive message.”

Dhaka University associate professor of law Sheikh Hafizur Rahman Karzon said restoring confidence did not solely depend on the trial.

“The activities of the law enforcing agencies, the congenial atmosphere of work on behalf of international travelers in different sectors and other issues determine this,” Karzon told BenarNews.

He said law enforcers focused on bringing terrorists to justice following an attack at a Dhaka café in July 2016 where 20 hostages were killed. Also targeted were militants responsible for killings of free thinking bloggers, writers, university teachers, journalists and foreigners since 2013.

“In six to seven months (of police operations), the sense of fear among the people, the foreigners and the international community withered away. The government and its law enforcement agencies deserve credit for this,” Karzon said.


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