The High Court on Wednesday upheld death sentences of four members of the extremist group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh for killing a Japanese farmer in Bangladesh on October 3, 2015.
The court, however, acquitted another person, who was among the five JMB members sentenced to death by a special judge’s court in Rangpur on February 28, 2017 for killing Hoshi Kunio at Kaunia in Rangpur.
The bench of Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman and Justice SM Masud Hossain Dolon pronounced the verdict upholding death sentences of Masud Rana, also known as Montry, Shakhawat Hossain Shafiq, Liton Miah and Ahsanullah Ansari alias Biplob.
Ahsanullah is still in hiding.
The five were sentenced to death by the trial court on February 28, 2017 while accused Md Nazrul Islam popularly known as Hasan and Md Saddam Hossain popularly known as Rahul of the extremist group were killed in separate gunfights with the police in 2016 and 2017 respectively before the trial.
Hoshi Kunio, 66, was killed nine months before the 22 people, mostly foreign nationals, were killed by extremists group attacking the Holy Artisan restaurant in the capital on July 1, 2016.
Hoshi Kunio came to Bangladesh on August 28, 2015 and started growing grass with a local resident Humayun Kabir Hira leasing out 2.8 acres of land at Sarai union in Rangpur.
Two unidentified people killed Hoshi Kunio while he was on his way to the firm in the district by a rickshaw at 9:00am in the morning of October 3, 2015.
Defence lawyer Ahsan Ullah told New Age that the High Court confirmed Masud’s death sentence after upholding the lower court verdict which found that Masud shot Hoshi Kunio in the chest.
The lawyer said that the High Court did not confirm the death sentence of Md Ishaq Ali as the prosecution failed to prove that Ishaq hid the firearm in his house after Hoshi Kunio was killed.
Among the four convicts Masud Rana, 21, was JMB’s regional commander.
Three others condemned convicts—Liton Miah, 23, Shakhawat Hossain, 32, and Ahsan Ullah Ansari, alias Biplob, 24, a student of Begum Rokeya University—planned to kill the Japanese national.
The Supreme Court unit of National Legal Aid Services Organisation provided legal assistance to Shawkhawat and Liton as they had no lawyer to defend.
The verdict said that before the killing, the convicts started watching Hoshi Kunio for eight to 10 months. The banned militants aimed to establish Din-Islam through Jihad in their language, observed the court in verdict.
The verdict said that the militants also aimed to make the country unstable and break down the economy of the country by killing foreign nationals staying in Bangladesh.