Judge Naresh Chandra Sarker of the Rangpur Special Judge’s Court also fixed January 4 next year for recording testimony of witnesses in the case after holding a hearing in presence of five of the seven men indicted.
Special Public Prosecutor Rathish Chandra Bhoumik told the Dhaka Tribune that a total of eight militants of New JMB were involved in the killing of Kunio on October 3 last year.
They were named as: regional commander Masud Rana, military commander Eshak Ali; Liton Mia; Abu Sayeed; Nazrul Islam alias Bike Hassan; Saddam Hossain alias Rahul alias Sabuj alias Chhobi; Begum Rokeya University student Ahsan Ullah Ansari Biplob; and Shakhawat alias Shafique.
Among the eight accused, Bike Hassan was killed in a ‘gunfight’ with the police on August 2, while Saddam, the alleged mastermind of the killing mission, and Ansari were absconding, said Rathish.
Middle East-based terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the murder, hours after gunmen shot dead 65-year-old Kunio in broad daylight near his house in Kachu Alutari area at Kaunia of Rangpur.
Hoshi first visited Bangladesh in 2011 for a week. He visited again for a week in 2013 before finally settling in the country to run a grass farm.
Since foreign citizens cannot remain in Bangladesh for more than three months at a stretch without a work permit, he left and re-entered the country to renew his visa status, visiting China and, most recently, India, according to a police source.
Investigators initially accused some members of BNP and its front organisations for his murder.
On July 2, however, investigators asked the court to drop the BNP men’s names after arrestee Masud Rana confessed that he himself had shot Kunio, who was on a rickshaw at the time.
Another accused, Eshak, also gave a confessional statement.
Even though the investigation officer identified the accused as JMB members, officials of DMP’s counter-terrorism unit claimed that they were members of a new faction of JMB having links to the Islamic State group.