Defence lawyers to appeal against judgment in the much-talked about case
The death penalty of seven New JMB militants in the Holey Artisan attack case has received praise from various quarters, including the prosecution, families of victims and experts.
The defence lawyers, however, as expected, have expressed deep dissatisfaction over the judgment delivered by the Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal on Wednesday.
After the verdict, state counsel Md Golam Sharuar Khan Zakir, also the tribunal’s acting public prosecutor, said: “We are pleased with the verdict.”
But, regarding the acquittal of one of eight accused in the case, he said: “After analyzing the full verdict, if we feel it is necessary, we will surely appeal against the acquittal.”
Another member of the prosecution team, Abdullah Abu, also made similar remarks.
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Zakir maintained that the investigation into the case has proved that Islamic State does not exist in Bangladesh, even though the international terror group claimed credit for the attack on July 1, 2016 at Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery.
Instead, militants scattered around the country planned and carried out the attack, he said.
Police investigation after the attack had found out that New JMB, a breakaway faction of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, planned and carried out the deadliest terror attack on Bangladesh soil that killed 23 people.
In his immediate reaction, Delwar Hossain, one of the defence counsels, said: “We are very unhappy with this verdict.”
Explaining their dissatisfaction, he said: “We have doubts about the witness testimonies. There are many contradictions, inconsistencies and lack of collaboration. We will go to the High Court challenging this judgment.”
In line with the law, the convicts will get seven days to appeal after the full verdict is released.
Strong message, but scepticism remains
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam on Wednesday also termed the verdict as epoch-making and said it proved once again that Bangladesh was sincere in uprooting militancy.
“This verdict will brighten our country’s image that was somewhat tarnished by the monstrous attack,” he told a press briefing at his Supreme Court office after the verdict.
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He added: “This verdict will send a strong message to the militants and like-minded people, and we will try our best to ensure that this judgment is upheld at the High Court.”
However, security expert Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said: “The death sentence [of seven militants] will not affect the lives of terrorists who are already motivated and ready to die.
“But for people who are in a dilemma to join militancy, the death sentence may have an effect on them to some extent.”
He said that ousting of militancy by implementing the laws was a social system, and opined. “Instead of death penalty, lifetime imprisonment, in jails like Guantanamo Bay, would be better; so that others, who take death as relief from life, can learn from this.”
US: Trial represents a landmark case
The United States on Wednesday described the trial of the Holey Artisan attack case as a landmark one for Bangladesh, and reiterated its commitment to continue supporting Bangladesh in its fight against terrorism.
“Today’s [Wednesday] verdict gives some closure to the families of those who suffered from the brutal murders committed that day,” said a statement issued by the US Embassy in Dhaka.
“The United States is honored to have assisted the government of Bangladesh throughout the investigation of the attack,” it said.
“On this solemn occasion, the United States renews its deepest condolences to the loved ones of the civilians slain and Bangladeshi law enforcement officials who were killed or injured responding to this contemptible terrorist attack,” the statement added.