(AFP) – A court in southeastern Bangladesh has sentenced dozens of men to death for brutally killing a local leader from the ruling Awami League party four years ago.
Judicial sources said on Tuesday that the district judge’s court on Tuesday sentenced 39 men to death by hanging for the crime. Sixteen others were acquitted.
“The court handed down the death penalty to 39 people in this single case,” a prosecutor from eastern Feni district said.
Defense lawyer Rana Das Gupta said, “We will go to appeal in the higher court against the order.”
Ekramul Haque, then Awami League leader in Feni district, was hacked, shot and burnt alive by miscreants inside his car in broad daylight in the area on May 20, 2014. A number of those travelling with the 47-year-old leader were injured in the brutal assault.
Bangladesh has a history of delivering death sentences in mass trials.
In November last year, a court upheld death sentences against 139 soldiers for the murder of dozens of senior army officers in a 2009 mutiny. Last August, 10 militants were sentenced to death over a failed plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by detonating a bomb at one of her rallies.
Bangladesh has seen a string of deadly attacks targeting bloggers, foreigners and religious minorities.
In the most serious recent attack in July 2016, gunmen stormed a cafe in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka and killed 22 people, most of them foreigners.
Al-Qaeda and the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have also claimed responsibility for a series of killings over the past few years. However, the Dhaka government has denied the presence of such groups, blaming domestic militants instead.
Police and army commandos have killed dozens of suspected militants and detained hundreds since the cafe attack.
In recent months, Bangladesh has also executed several opposition leaders for war crimes committed during the 1971 war to break away from Pakistan.