Holey Artisan massacre

Awaiting hearing for approval of death sentence

Holey Artisan Bakery
Holey Artisan BakeryProthom Alo
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The verdict in the case of the most horrific militant attack and brutal massacre in the country’s history at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan was passed seven months ago. A judicial court sentenced seven members of the neo-JMB to death in November last year. The next step in the legal process will be the approval of the death reference by the High Court. At the same time, the hearing of the accused’s plea will also start. The legal paper-books has already been prepared for the death reference hearing.

In this regard, the spokesperson of the Supreme Court Mohammad Saifur Rahman told Prothom Alo on Monday that the printing of the paper-book of the Holy Artisan case is almost done. However, the paper-book has not been received yet due to the current coronavirus situation in the country.

The authorities will move on to next step according to the law once the paper-book is received, he added.

A group of armed militants carried out a brutal attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, Dhaka on 1 July 2016. They held hostage a number of Bangladeshis and foreign nationals at gunpoint. The whole country was stunned by the horrific attack. The militants hacked and shot 20 Bangladeshi and foreign nationals dead. Among them 9 were Italians, 7 were Japanese, one Indian and 3 Bangladeshi. Two police officers were killed during the operation that night.

Police submitted the charge sheet in the court on 23 July 2018, two years after the attack. The trial of the case started on 26 November of that year. The trial court's verdict on the militant attack and brutal killings came a year after the trial began.

The High Court's approval is required to carry the sentence out. This is known as death reference of the case. Defendants can also appeal against the sentence of the trial court. Death references and appeals are usually heard together.

Had it not been for the coronavirus situation, the hearing might have started already, the attorney general said.

The judge of the special anti-terrorism tribunal in Dhaka, Mojibur Rahman, sentenced seven of the eight accused to death and acquitted one. The seven convicts are Rakibul Hasan alias Reagan alias Rafiul Islam, Jahangir Hossain alias Rajiv Gandhi, Aslam Hossain alias Rash, Hadisur Rahman Sagar alias Sagar, Abdus Sabur Khan alias Sohel Mahfuz, Mamunur Rashid alias Ripon and Shariful Islam Khaled. Mizanur Rahman was released. Seven convicts on death row are now in jail. Mizanur, who was acquitted, is also in jail in another case, the defence lawyers said.

Thereafter, all the documents of the case, including the verdict of the judicial court, reached the concerned branch of the High Court on 5 December last year, which was registered in the relevant branch as a death reference.

According to the law, if an accused is sentenced to death, the High Court's approval is required to carry the sentence out. This is known as death reference of the case. Defendants can also appeal against the sentence of the trial court. Death references and appeals are usually heard together. However, before that, a paper-book has to be prepared in preparation for the hearing.

According to a source in court, the concerned branch prepared a paper-book (4,000-5,000 pages) after the registration and sent it to the government printing house for printing in February this year. There are also jail appeals of seven convicts and two regular appeals. The matter will be brought to the chief justice after the arrival of the paper-book. The death reference hearing will be held by the bench to be fixed by the High Court.

Attorney general Mahbubey Alam told Prothom Alo that he would have brought the matter to the court for hearing if the coronavirus situation had not arisen.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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