An anti-terrorism court in Bangladesh has sentenced five Islamist militants to death and another to life in prison for killing a secularist writer nearly six years ago in Dhaka, officials said on Tuesday.
The militants, members of banned Ansar al-Islam militant outfit, were convicted of killing Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. writer prosecution lawyer Abdullah Abu said.
Abu said according to the court order, the man sentenced to life in jail was convicted of inciting the killing through social media posts, while the others were directly involved with the murder.
Unidentified assailants hacked Roy to death and injured his wife as the couple returned from a book fair in Dhaka on Feb. 26, 2015.
They had travelled from the U.S. to attend an unveiling ceremony of Roy’s new book at a fair.
The lawyer told reporters that the charges brought against the defendants were proved and they were given the highest punishment with four convicts present in a crowded courtroom.
He added that two others were still on the run.
The founder of a well-known blog, Muktomona, Roy wrote on topics including science, society and philosophy in the Muslim-majority South Asian country.
He authored a number of controversial books including Samakamita (Homosexuality) and Obiswasher Darson (Philosophy of Atheists).
Muslim-majority Bangladesh experienced a wave of attacks on secular writers, bloggers, academics, priests and people from minority faiths between early 2013 and 2016.
The attacks were claimed either by Islamic State or al-Qaeda or their local affiliates, but investigators said home-grown militants were behind the attacks.
The defence lawyer, Faruq Ahmed said his clients will file an appeal against the verdict with the higher court.