The four arrested in the case brought to the court premises
Police have ratcheted up security in and around the court premises in Dhaka ahead of the verdict in the 2016 killings of LGBT rights activist Xulhaz Mannan and his friend Mahbub Rabby Tonoy.
Judge Mojibur Rahman of the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal is set to deliver the verdict on Tuesday. The trial concluded on August 23 with the closing arguments from the prosecution and the defence.
The four arrested in the case were brought to the court premises around 9 am on Tuesday, said Mahbubur. The security measures were tightened while transporting the prisoners.
Eight people, including sacked army officer Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque, have been charged with the murders Dhaka’s Kalabagan five years ago.
The others are Akram Hossain, Sabbirul Hoque Chowdhury, Moulana Zunaid Ahmed, Mozammel Hossain alias Saimon, Arafat Rahman, Sheikh Abdullah, and Asadullah.
Among them, Zia, Akram, Sabbirul and Junaid are on the run. Zia, Mozammel, Arafat and Akram were also accused in the case filed over the murder of writer and blogger Avijit Roy.
Investigators reported that all of them are members of the banned militant outfit Ansar al-Islam.
Among them, Zia, Akram, Mozammel and Sheikh Abdullah have been sentenced to death for the murder of publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan in 2015.
On April 25 in 2016, Xulhaz was hacked to death inside his apartment at Kalabagan along with Tonoy.
The attack was one of a series of militant-linked assassinations of secular activists and religious minorities. Investigation found Islamist militants responsible for the killings of Xulhaz and Tonoy.
An international relations graduate from the Dhaka University, the 35-year-old Xulhaz joined the US embassy in 2007 before taking up what would turn out to be his last assignment at the USAID.
He also edited Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine.
Tonoy, 26, was involved with the Lok Natyadal theatre group. He taught drama to children at an organisation called the Peoples Theatre.
A patrolling policeman, who tried to stop the assailants, was also injured in the process. The assistant sub-inspector managed to snatch a bag containing two firearms, ammunition and a mobile phone from the assailants.
That same night Xulhaz’s brother started a murder case against five to six unidentified suspects at the Kalabagan Police Station. A separate case was also initiated over the attack on the policeman and the confiscated firearms.