See More on Facebook

Politics

NO MERCY for café attack perpetrators

Sentencing 7 militants to death, court says Holey Artisan attack was designed to assassinate the non-communal character of Bangladesh.


Written by

Updated: November 28, 2019

 

A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced seven militants to death for their involvement in the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, terming it a disgraceful attack aimed at assassinating the non-communal character of Bangladesh.

The Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal acquitted one accused as it found him not guilty in the atrocity that left 22 people, including 17 foreigners, dead in the capital’s Gulshan.

The judgment came more than three years after the country’s deadliest café siege which, according to the court, was aimed at endangering public safety and drawing attention of the international militant organisation IS.

The grisly attack followed a spate of target killings of bloggers, writers, members of religious minorities and foreigners over a span of several years.

The siege that drew global condemnation warranted a massive crackdown by law enforcers on terror networks in the Muslim-majority country with secularism as one of the four basic principles of the constitution.

“Through this disgraceful attack, an attempt was made to assassinate the non-communal character of Bangladesh. Foreigners here suffered from a sense of insecurity.

The positive image of Bangladesh, known for peace and harmony, was tarnished a bit,” said Judge Md Majibur Rahman.

“In regard to punishment, the accused don’t deserve compassion or sympathy. Only the handing down of the highest punishment to the accused under the Anti-Terrorism Act 2009 will ensure justice, and relatives of the ill-fated victims will get some peace,” Majibur said while reading out the summary of the full verdict in a packed courtroom.

Five young militants, armed with guns, machete and grenades, stormed the upscale eatery in the diplomatic zone in Gulshan on July 1 and held the diners hostage before brutally killing 20 of them — three Bangladeshis, seven Japanese, nine Italians and one Indian.

The five militants were killed during a rescue operation by army commandoes.

Two police officials and a chef of the café were also killed during the 12-hour standoff while another injured staffer of the eatery died later.

REASONS BEHIND ATTACK

In the verdict, the judge shed light on the reasons behind the attack and its mastermind — Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury — a Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi origin.

The members of neo-JMB, formed by a faction of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, carried out the “brutal and monstrous murders” in the bakery to draw attention of the IS and endanger public safety by waging so-called Jihad, the court said.

The government banned the JMB on February 23, 2005, holding it responsible for a series of bomb attacks and killings.

“The audacity, cruelty and brutality of militancy were manifested through the attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery,” the court noted.

When innocent people, both local and foreigners, went to the café for dinner, they came across the brutal face of militancy all of a sudden, it said.

The militants killed people in front of children and hacked dead bodies with sharp weapons to confirm death, the judge said, adding, “The Holey Artisan Bakery was turned into a death valley within a moment.”

ROAD TO JUSTICE

After the mayhem, a case was filed with Gulshan police under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

On July 23 last year, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police submitted to a Dhaka court a charge sheet against eight militants.

Thirteen other militants were also found involved in the attack. Their names were not included in the charge sheet as they had been killed in different anti-militant drives across the country.

The court recorded testimonies of 113 witnesses, including survivors, victims’ family members, police personnel and café staffers, and closing arguments from both the prosecution and defence counsels before fixing yesterday for delivering the verdict.

Yesterday, the eight accused were taken to the court in the old part of the city by a prison van at 10:20am.

Hundreds of security personnel, including members of Rapid Action Battalion, were deployed in and around the court premises. Archways fitted with metal detectors were set up at the building’s entrance and in front of the courtroom.

Around 11:30am, journalists were allowed to enter the courtroom after being checked with handheld metal detectors.

Police later made the journalists and lawyers leave the courtroom, and thoroughly searched it. The law enforcers allowed them to enter it after a few minutes.

The courtroom soon got packed. Many lawyers and even journalists were seen taking photographs and selfies inside it.

Just before noon, the accused were brought to the dock.

The judge sat at 12:02pm and gave an introductory speech, thanking all involved in the trial process.

“There may be varied reactions after the verdict, but as a judge I have tried my best to ensure justice considering all aspects [of the case],” said Majibur.

He then read out the summary of the 134-page verdict.

The judge handed down death sentence to seven for attempts to kill, grievously hurt or hold hostage. They were also fined Tk 50,000 each.

The seven death-row convicts are — Jahangir Hossain, Aslam Hossain Rash, Hadisur Rahman, Rakibul Hasan Regan, Md Abdus Sabur Khan, Shariful Islam Khaled and Mamunur Rashid Ripon.

They were also awarded five years’ imprisonment and fined Tk 10,000 each for supporting a banned entity. In default, they have to serve one more year in jail, it said.

The seven were also sentenced to six months in jail for holding membership of the banned entity.

All of them except for Mamunur were handed down 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Tk 10 lakh each for financing terrorist activities. In default, they will have to serve two more years in jail.

However, all the jail terms will be merged with the death sentence. They can file appeals with the High Court, challenging the verdict.

The court cleared accused Mizanur Rahman alias Boro Mizan from the charges.

It said though he had given a confessional statement before a metropolitan magistrate, no one gave any testimony against him and there was no strong evidence of his involvement in the crime.

Mizanur, however, will not be released from jail as several cases against him are pending.

Moments after the judge left the courtroom at 12:15pm, some of the convicts shouted “Allahu Akbar”.

“You will be judged by Allah in afterlife,” one of them shouted at the judge before they were hauled off to police vans on the court premises.

Later they were taken to Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj.

REACTIONS

Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu said they were happy with the verdict but will try to know the reasons behind the acquittal of one accused upon receipt of the full text of the verdict.

The family members of one of the victims — assistant commissioner of Detective Branch of Police Rabiul Karim — demanded quick execution of the verdict.

Inspector General of Police Javed Patwary said they would go for an appeal with the HC against the acquittal of one accused.

In his reaction, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government would soon take necessary steps to prepare a paper book of the case for HC hearing on the death reference and appeal.

Delwar Hossain, one of the defence counsels, said they were aggrieved by the verdict and will challenge it at the HC.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

North Korea has not given up hope for nuclear talks with US yet

Kim has mentioned a possibility of a ‘Christmas’ gift. Tensions between the US and North Korea have heightened as the two sides exchanged threats and bellicose rhetoric of possible military actions if necessary, amid their stalled nuclear talks. But they appear to have no intention to wind up their diplomacy at least for the next few weeks, experts said. On Wednesday, Heino Klinck, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said the US has been refraining from responding to every single one of North On Wednesday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck said the


By The Korea Herald
December 6, 2019

Politics

Pyongyang to hold party meeting ahead of year-end deadline

Kim Jong-un rides up Paektusan again, highlights self-reliance and revolutionary spirit. North Korea will hold a plenary meeting around the end of December to decide on “crucial issues,” its state-run news agency said Wednesday. On the same day, the Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rode up Paektusan on a white horse accompanied by military commanders, raising speculation that the communist regime may take more provocative military actions as the year-end deadline it set for denuclearization talks with the US quickly approaches. North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea announced Tuesday that the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the WPK would convene around the end of December, Korea Central News Agency reported, “in order to discuss and decide on crucial issues in line with the needs of the development of the Korean revolution and the chan


By The Korea Herald
December 5, 2019

Politics

Najib to take the stand today

The former premier is accused of malfeasance. Today is the day that Malaysians will see, for the first in the country’s history, a former prime minister take the stand to answer charges against him in a court of law. Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic), 66, will testify from the witness box as the first defence witness to rebut his seven charges of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. According to his co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh, Najib will be called as the first witness on the opening day of the defence’s proceedings. Najib will be first questioned by his defence during examination-in-chief before being cross-examined by the prosecution. On Nov 11, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and on


By The Star
December 3, 2019

Politics

Typhoon Tisoy touches down in the Philippines

The typhoon may affect the Southeast Asian games which is currently underway. Typhoon Tisoy slightly weakened early Tuesday morning as it bears down on Burias Island but it remains strong and destructive, the weather bureau reported. In its 5 a.m. Severe Weather Bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that Tisoy’s eyewall is currently bringing violent winds and intense rainfall over Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Masbate. Its eyewall is also expected to affect Southern Quezon, Romblon, and Marinduque in the next three hours. Frequent to continuous heavy to intense (with isolated torrential) rains will be experienced in the Bicol Region, Romblon, Marinduque, Mindoro Provinces, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, Bataan, Pampanga and Bulacan between Tuesday early morning and late afternoon, Pagasa said. Occasional to frequent heavy


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 3, 2019

Politics

New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”. Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel. Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating. By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats


By The Kathmandu Post
December 2, 2019

Politics

Thousands return to Hong Kong streets in fresh round of protests

Police fire tear gas at those outside of approved route. After a week of relative calm, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday (Dec 1) chanting slogans such as “revolution of our time” and “liberate Hong Kong”. The protest, which took place in the bustling shopping district of Tsim Tsa Tsui, came after hundreds of people marched to the United States consulate earlier in the day to show “gratitude” for US support for the demonstrations that have roiled the China-ruled financial hub for nearly six months. Waving posters that read “Never forget why you started” and black flags with the logo “Revolution now”, protesters marched past the city’s Kowloon waterfront, home to luxury hotels and shopping malls. Police in riot gear were out in force for the Tsim Sha Tsui march – the third one of the day. The


By The Straits Times
December 2, 2019