Millennium Post

B’desh arrests killer of gay rights activist, secular blogger

The Bangladesh police have arrested the main suspect in the murders of a gay magazine editor and a secular blogger. The two were brutally killed by militants for writing against radical Islamists in the Muslim majority country.

A joint team of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit and the Detective Branch of Police arrested Rashidun Nabi from a bus station in Sayedabad area in the capital on Sunday night, a police spokesman said.

Nabi is the main suspect in the murder case of Julhash Mannan, the editor of ‘Roopban’ – the only magazine in Bangladesh advocating gay rights, and blogger Nazimuddin Samad who were killed in April, the spokesman said.

The police claimed that Nabi was an operative of Ansaral al Islam or Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which is said to be ideologically inclined to al-Qaeda.

Nabi was sent to a three-day remand by Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Md Maruf Hossain, after the police produced him before a court with a 10-day remand prayer.

Mannan, 35, a cousin of former foreign minister Dipu Moni and ex-protocol officer of the US embassy, was killed by assailants, who entered his flat impersonating as courier company officials, on April 25.

Nazimuddin, 28, who was a masters student of the state-run Jagannath University’s law department, was hacked by machete-wielding militants before being shot on April 6.

A day before the murder, he had expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post. He was known to have been critical of state religion in the Bangladeshi Constitution. He had been on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a group of radical Islamists prepared and sent to Bangladesh's interior ministry.

Bangladesh has seen a spate of gruesome attacks on secular activists, religious minorities, bloggers and foreigners, many of whom have been hacked to death with machetes.

Meanwhile, a special tribunal on Monday sentenced three Jamaatul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB) militants to 10 years imprisonment, seven years after their arrest from a hideout in rugged southeastern Khagrachhari hill district.

"They are members of outlawed JMB who faced the trial in person under Explosive Act," a police officer said.

The developments came as officials said efforts were underway to expedite the process to hold the trial of militants as part of the government's policy alongside the intensified anti-terrorism clampdown. Bangladesh has launched a massive crackdown on militants after the July 1 Dhaka terror attack in which 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. 
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