01/25/2007, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Three death sentences for August 2005 bombings

The three men sentenced to death are top in the Islamic group Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh. There are growing doubts about the authorities’ real commitment to the anti-terrorism battle. The notorious Bangla Bhai, captured last year, is waiting for his execution, but in a villa.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Three leaders of the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh will be executed for their role in planting several bombs that exploded across Bangladesh in the summer of 2005. On Tuesday a special court sentenced Abdul Qaiyum (alias Bhodu), Minhajul Islam (alias Sohel Rana) and Abu Sayeed (alias Hussain) to hang from the gallows, but there are growing doubts in the country that there is a will to continue the anti-terrorism battle in the third most populous Muslim country.

Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh claimed responsibility of the synchronised bombings that killed three people on August 17, 2005.

The militant group wants Bangladesh to adopt the Sharia.

Another 22 Islamic extremists have been sentenced to death for the same attacks.

Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh has been also blamed for attacks against the judiciary. For a bomb that killed two judges in November 2005, its two top leaders, Rahman and Siddiqul Islam (Bangla Bhai) got the death penalty.

However, the authorities’ commitment to fighting terrorism seems lukewarm at best. Sentences are never executed because of pressure from fundamentalist groups.

The notorious Bangla Bhai is a case in point. On December 23 of last year the informed, who enabled the security forces to catch him, had his throat cut.

And despite the noose hanging over his head, Bangla Bhai is not in a regular prison, but in a small villa.

When the press got hold of this, the government was forced to explain that the decision to hold the man outside prison was taken for security reasons.

But for some analysts in Bangladesh, Bangla Bhai’s case is indicative “of the likely political pressures that are exerted to have him freed one way or another”.

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