A trial court sentenced seven people to death for their roles in Bangladesh’s worst terrorist attack, which killed 20 diners, most of them foreigners, in a cafe in 2016.
Judge Mojibur Rahman pronounced the verdict in a packed Dhaka courtroom on Wednesday, Dhaka Metropolitan Chief Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu said at a briefing. The decision brings to a close the year-long trial that followed a two-year investigation, which saw one accused being acquitted. The indicted have the right to appeal.
“They wanted to destabilize the country and destroy the economy by forcing foreigners and investors to leave Bangladesh,” prosecutors said in case documents.
Nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian and three Bangladeshis were killed by terrorists who stormed the Holey Artisan restaurant in the diplomatic area of Dhaka in 2016. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the 12-hour hostage crisis.
Security forces shot dead five attackers and also, reports say mistakenly, a pizza chef during the rescue operation codenamed “Thunderbolt.”
The convicts yelled “Allahu Akbar,” or “Allah is the greatest,” in the courtroom, according to prosecutor Abu.
At least two suspected militants tied to the attack are at large, according to Monirul Islam, chief of the police’s counterterrorism unit.