Bangladesh Sentences Seven to Death for 2016 Attack

DHAKA (Reuters) -
Army soldiers patrol near the Holey Artisan restaurant after gunmen attacked the upscale cafe, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 2, 2016. (Reuters/Mohammd Ponir Hossain)

A Bangladesh court on Wednesday handed death sentences to seven members of an Islamist terror group for plotting an attack on a cafe in 2016 that killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, in the south Asian nation’s worst such incident.

“Charges against them were proved beyond any doubt. The court gave them the highest punishment,” public persecutor Golam Sarwar Khan told reporters after the verdict in the capital, Dhaka, amid tight security.

One of the eight people accused was acquitted, he added.

After the ruling, the accused men in the dock in a packed courtroom looked defiant and shouted, “All-hu Akbar” (G-d is greatest), witnesses said.

The July 1 attack on the restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka’s diplomatic area shocked the nation of 160 million and signaled a chilling threat to business, including the vital garment exports sector.

Five terrorists stormed the Holey Artisan cafe, took diners hostage and killed them over 12 hours. Nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American and an Indian were among the dead. The terrorists were also killed in a rescue bid by army commandos.

Khan said the seven men convicted on Wednesday were involved in planning the attack. They belong to the group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, that seeks to establish sharia rule in the predominantly Muslim country.