A Bangladesh court has sentenced five members of an Islamist militant group to death on Tuesday for hacking a US blogger to death six years ago in Dhaka.
Avijit Roy, a blogger based in the US and of Bangladeshi origin, was attacked with machetes as he left a book fair in the capital in February 2015.
His wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger but she survived.
It was one of a spate of attacks on secular figures, which the Islamist militants, Ansar al-Islam, took blame for.
The court was told that the assault on the blogger was carried out by a banned Islamist group.
“Charges against them were proved beyond any doubt. The court gave them the highest punishment,” public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said after the verdict, amid tight security at the Special Anti-Terrorism Tribunal in the capital, Dhaka.
The group is believed to be linked with al-Qaeda. Syed Ziaul Haq, a sacked army major who everyone has been generally believed to be the leader of the group and who masterminded the killing, and one other member of the group were tried in absentia and received death sentences, Khan said.
Nazrul Islam, defence lawyer for the six men, said they would appeal against the sentences in the higher court.
The court also jailed one man for life in the attack on the blogger, Khan said.
He said the six men convicted on Tuesday belong to the al Qaeda-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, which police say was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a string of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by Islamic State or al Qaeda-aligned groups.
The most serious attack came in July 2016, when gunmen stormed a cafe in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka and killed 22 people, most of them foreigners.