Five sentenced to death for killing of Japanese citizen in Bangladesh

DHAKA - A Bangladesh court handed down the death sentence on Tuesday for five Islamist militants found guilty of killing a Japanese citizen, court officials said.

Kunio Hoshi, 65, was gunned down in October 2015 by masked men on a motorcycle on his way to visit a grass farm project in the northern district of Rangpur.

The killing came less than a week after an Italian aid worker had been killed in a similar fashion in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter.

Public prosecutor Rathish Chandra Bhawmik said the five had conspired to kill Hoshi to destabilize the government and the country.

Police said the accused were members of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

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The court acquitted one defendant as charges against him could not be proved.

Attacks on foreigners are rare in Bangladesh.

But it has seen a rising tide of Islamist violence over recent years, in which at least six online critics of religious militancy were hacked to death, among them a US citizen of Bangladesh origin.

Since 2013, a total of 48 people, including 20 in cafe attack, have been killed or seriously wounded by Islamist militants.

Abul Hossain, defending, said he would appeal.

"We are not satisfied with this judgment and we will go to the Supreme Court after getting full copy of the verdicts," he said.