Bangladesh: 5 militants sentenced to death for shooting Japanese national

Last year, six members of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh were indicted for the shooting of Kunio Hoshi, 65, in northern Rangpur district.

Judge Naresh Sarker said the five had murdered Hoshi as part of a "campaign to destabilise the country and smear its image".

Security had been tightened in Rangpur city ahead of the verdict, with scores of police deployed near the court.

Four of the men were in the court amid heavy security but one of was sentenced in absentia.

Abul Hossain, defending, said he would appeal.

The 66-year old died on the spot. He was an official of the Netherlands-based NGO, ICCO Cooperation and had started a farm in Rangpur to produce grass for agricultural purposes.

Locals said Hoshi had converted to Islam.

The killing was similar to that of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in capital Dhaka a week earlier.

The Islamic State group issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi postings online.

The country had launched a massive crackdown on militants specially after the July 1 Dhaka terror attack in 2016 in which 22 people, including an Indian, were killed.

Authorities have also blamed the JMB for the killing of 20 hostages, including seven Japanese nationals, during a siege at an upscale cafe in Dhaka in July previous year.

Work on Japanese-funded infrastructure projects such as coal-fired power plants and a metro system in Dhaka were temporarily halted after the attack on the cafe previous year. Dozens of atheists, liberal writers, bloggers and publishers and members of minority communities and foreigners have been targeted and killed.

  • Leroy Wright