Dhaka, Oct 31 (IANS) The Bangladesh High Court on Monday commuted the death sentences of seven militants to imprisonment until death in connection with the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in 2016.
The bench of Justice Shahidul Karim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman also fined the convicts 50,000 takas each.
This decision came after the conclusion of the hearing on the death reference and appeals in the case, as confirmed by Deputy Attorney General Bashir Ahmed and defence lawyer Ariful Islam.
In accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, any death sentences issued by lower courts are subject to review by the High Court.
On the night of July 1, 2016, five militants, armed with crude bombs, machetes, and pistols, seized the O’ Kitchen restaurant and Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan and took the guests and staff hostage. They killed 22 people, including three Bangladeshis, seven Japanese, nine Italians, and one Indian.
The horrific event ended when the attackers were neutralised by commandoes and remaining hostages rescued alive.
Attorney General Abu Mohammad Amin Uddin told IANS that he, on behalf of the state, will appeal the verdict.
The seven accused are Jahangir Hossain, Aslam Hossain alias Rash, Abdus Sabur Khan, Rakibul Hasan Reagan, Hadisur Rahman, Shariful Islam alias Khaled, and Mamunur Rashid.
The operatives of the banned JMB were previously convicted under a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009 that applies for “direct involvement” in the offence and sentenced to death.
Those who directly participated in the siege, however, were killed during the army operation following the attack. The highest punishment under the section is life imprisonment for assisting or provoking the direct participants in the crimes, court sources said.
The HC also commented that the country’s image has been severely damaged in the wake of the Holey Artisan terrorist attack. Moreover, such brutal killings have created extreme fear in the minds of the people and severely disrupted public security.
On November 27, 2019, an anti-terrorism special tribunal in Dhaka sentenced eight members of the banned militant outfit to death for their involvement in the attack on the restaurant while acquitting one accused. The convicts appealed to the High Court, challenging the tribunal verdict.