Bangladeshi prison security personnel stand guard in front of Khulna jail on October 16 , 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Bangladesh plans to expedite the trials of suspected extremist militants, sparking concerns among human rights groups, which suggest that the move could be politically-motivated.
The government is “trying to fast-track all the militant-related cases,” Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said on Monday.
Since July, Bangladeshi police have shot dead nearly 40 suspected militants including leader of banned group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) Tamim Chowdhury.
He is a Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi descent who allegedly masterminded a militant attack on a Dhaka cafe that killed 22 people on July 1.
The JMB has pledged allegiance to the Takfiri Daesh terror group mainly active in Iraq and Syria.
Police spokesman A.K.M Shahidur Rahman said there were at least 64 militant extremists on death row and their appeals were being heard in the higher courts.
Meanwhile, Asadul Islam, aka Arif, a senior JMB leader was executed in the Khulna region on Sunday for his role in a 2005 bombing that killed two judges. The Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence in August.
An ambulance leaves Khulna Jail carrying body of Asadul Islam after he was executed in Khulna on October 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Arif’s body was buried amid tight security in his home town shortly after his execution, local police chief Pankaj Chandra Roy said.
Arif and six other top JMB leaders, including the founder of the group, Shayakh Abdur Rahman, were sentenced to death on May 29, 2006 for killing the two judges in a 2005 bomb attack on a minibus.
Death sentences of the militants, except Arif, had been carried out in March 2007.
In the meantime, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has repeatedly expressed concern over the hasty prosecution and execution of convicted inmates.
“When terror attacks happen, governments often feel under pressure to show that they are doing something,” said the HRW’s South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly.
“What is needed instead is careful investigation to identify and prosecute perpetrators with proper evidence,” she said.

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