Six terrorists sentenced to death for brutal killing of two gay rights activists

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Six terrorists have been sentenced to death for hacking two gay rights activists to death.

The Islamist militants were responsible for the brutal murders of the two men in Bangladesh in April 2016.

Xulhaz Mannan, 39, the editor of Bangladesh's first magazine aimed at LGBTQ+ people, and actor Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, 26, were hacked to death in the Asian country's capital Dhaka.

The vicious attack was claimed by Ansar Al Islam, the regional arm of Al Qaeda.

The killings were part of a series of attacks on atheist bloggers, academics and other minorities that shocked the country and led many to go into hiding or flee abroad.

Six of the eight defendants were found guilty of murder and given a death sentence, public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said.

The men's defence lawyer Nazrul Islam said the six would appeal their sentences.

He said: "My clients are completely innocent. They are not linked with these murders. They were framed unjustly."

Two other defendants were acquitted, who are on the run and were tried in absentia. Of the six men sentenced to death, two are also on the run and were tried in their absence.

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Five of those convicted had already been sentenced to death in February of this year after the 2015 murders of a blogger and a publisher who were hacked to death in separate incidents.

One of the shameless men who photographed smiling as he was escorted to the court by police.

Those sentenced to death include former army officer Syde Ziaul Haque Zia, who officials say is the ringleader.

The others sentenced to death are Akram Hossain, Md Mozammel Hossain, Md Sheikh Abdullah, Arafat Rahman and Asadullah.

They forced their way into Mr Mannan's home wielding guns and machetes.

Sabbirul Hoque Chowdhury and Zunaid Ahmed were acquitted.

Mr Mannan's magazine, Roopbaan, had no official permission to publish in Bangladesh. It is a mainly Muslim country where same-sex relationships are illegal.

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The US were among those to condemn the sickening killing, with ambassador Marcia Bernicat saying she was "devastated by the brutal murder".

The victim also worked at the as a U.S. Embassy protocol officer.

Ms Bernicat said: "Xulhaz was more than a colleague to those of us fortunate to work with him at the U.S. Embassy. He was a dear friend."

Mr Mannan's friend and current editor of Roopbaan, who gave his name as Rasel, said: "Bangladeshi LGBTQ activists live under the constant fear of arbitrary arrest, murder, violence and state persecution alongside social stigmatisation, homelessness, workplace discrimination and precarious mental health conditions.

"I was forced to flee Bangladesh after the murders along with many others. I haven't seen or touched my parents in the past four years.

"This verdict is part of maintaining the status quo that criminalises gay people."

Rasel is currently living in the United States after fleeing.

  • Islam
  • Courts
  • Terror
  • Murder

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