Men on death row for US blogger murder flee from Bangladesh court

A manhunt is on after two men, sentenced to death for killing a blogger critical of hardline religiosity, escaped from a crowded Dhaka court.

Bangladesh blogger
Mozammel Hossain, wearing bullet proof jacket and helmet, one among those convicted in Roy's killing being produced before the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka [File: Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP]

Two men sentenced to death for killing a blogger critical of hardline religiosity have escaped from a crowded court in Bangladesh’s Dhaka.

Avijit Roy, a United States national of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in February 2015 while returning home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair.

His wife, blogger Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a thumb in the attack.

Five members of an armed Muslim group were sentenced to death last year, while one was jailed for life.

Two of those sentenced to death escaped on Sunday after bikers sprayed chemicals on the police and took the convicts away, police said.

“A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their helpers,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters.

The minister said border security officials had been put on alert to stop the men fleeing the country.

Police also announced an award of two million taka (about $19,350) for tracing the convicts.

The convicted men belong to the al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Ullah Bangla Team. Police say the group was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a string of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) or al Qaeda-aligned groups.

Source: Reuters