BANGLADESH. COURT ORDERS SEVEN MILITANTS TO HANG
May 29, 2006: a Bangladesh court sentenced seven top Islamist militants to death for killing two judges in a bomb attack in southern Jhalakati town in 2005.
"They will be hanged until death," Judge Reza Tarik Ahmed said in his verdict.
The seven included chiefs of two outlawed groups -- Shayek Abdur Rahman of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen and Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh.
"I pronounce this highest penalty as involvement of the accused has been proved beyond doubt," the judge said in a courtroom packed with lawyers and security officers.
All but one of the convicts were in custody. The other one was on the run and was tried in absentia.
Two judges were killed when a bomb was thrown at a vehicle carrying them to a court in Jhalakati, 300 km (187 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on November 14, 2005.
The outlawed groups, trying to turn Muslim dominated Bangladesh into a sharia-based Islamic country, killed at least 30 people and wounded around 150 in a spate of countrywide bomb attacks between August and December 2005.
As the judge finished reading out his verdict, the defendants shouted in unison "Alhamdulillah (all praise to Allah)."
In court testimony, Shayek and Bangla Bhai said they had no respect for any "people's court" and were not afraid of any judgment it may pronounce. "We have no confidence in your laws ... so we will not appeal. We are ready to die," a court official quoted Shayek as saying. (Sources: Reuters, 29/05/2006)