An anti-terrorism court here on Thursday indicted six people, including a sacked army Major, in the brutal murder of a Bangladesh-born American blogger in 2015, five months after police wrapped up the investigation into the sensational killing.
Blogger and science writer Avijit Roy, 42, was hacked to death in February 2015 with the machete-wielding assailants also wounding his wife.
Roy was one of many similar attacks on liberal writers in the Muslim-majority country.
Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Tribunal Judge Mujibur Rahman set September 11 as the date for starting the trial of the case.
“I am setting September 11 for (next) hearing of the Avijit Roy murder case,” Rahman said after framing charges against the accused who are all operatives of the outlawed Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
Of the six suspects, four were escorted by police to the
dock while sacked Major Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque and another accused are on
and are to be tried in absentia.
The tribunal, however, issued fresh warrants for their arrest while police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit was entrusted with the charge of investigating the case.
A manhunt is underway for the fugitive major and the government has announced a bounty on his head after he appeared as the mastermind of several other murders including that of publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan.
The ABT, said to be ideologically inclined to al-Qaeda, is one of the two main militant outfits active in Bangladesh.
The other is the Islamic State-affiliated Neo-Jamaatul Muhahideen Bangladesh (neo-JMB), which carried out the July 1, 2016, attack on an upmarket cafe in Dhaka that killed 22 people.
Earlier, reports suggested that at least eight people took involved in the killing, but police said they eventually found only six people involved in the crime.
Bangladesh’s High Court last year confirmed two ABT operatives to death for the 2013 murder of another blogger, the first of a string of deadly attacks on secular writers and activists.
Since 2013, Bangladesh has witnessed a number of Islamist attacks on foreigners, liberals and religious minority with the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda making competing claims.
The government, however, has consistently dismissed their claims, saying foreign terrorist groups have no presence in Bangladesh and the attacks were carried out by homegrown outfits.
Bangladesh banned ABT in 2015 but its operatives regrouped under Ansar al-Islam, which too has been outlawed.
Bangladesh’s popular writer and physicist Jafor Iqbal was the last to be targeted in March last year when he narrowly survived an attack on the campus of the state-run Shahjajal Science University in northeastern Sylhet.