Bangladesh has sentenced two police officers to death for the murder of a former military major that cast a spotlight on extrajudicial killings by the nation’s security forces.
The district court judge announced the verdict against Pradeep Kumar Das Liakat Ali for murdering Sinha Mohammad Rashed on July 31, 2020, near the southeastern tourist town of Cox’s Bazar.
Das and several other officers were accused of shooting dead the retired army major while he was filming a nature documentary.
“The judge said it was a premeditated murder,” prosecutor Tauhidul Ahsan told the AFP news agency. “One of them shot him dead and another kicked him with his boots as he lay dying.”
Monday’s hearing did not discuss the motive for the crime.
Details of the murder were leaked to the press and triggered outrage among the country’s military fraternity, who demanded the officers be punished.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the court to condemn Das and his co-conspirators during the sentencing.
Six more people were sentenced to life in prison for the killing, while seven others were acquitted.
Bangladesh’s rights record under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already drawn international condemnation.
Washington last month imposed sanctions on the country’s elite Rapid Action Battalion security force, along with several former and current top officers, over accusations of extrajudicial killings.
Bangladeshi human rights researcher Mubashar Hasan said the case against Das and the other defendants only went ahead because the victim was a member of the country’s powerful military.
“Pradeep could have pretty much got away and probably would’ve got [a] presidential or prime ministerial medal by killing ordinary citizens in the name of killing drug peddlers,” Hasan, who is based in Australia, told AFP news agency.
Das has been accused by rights groups of masterminding more than 170 murders in the country’s south.