Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal on Sunday indicted eight suspected operatives of banned extremist outfit Ansar al-Islam, also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team, in the case of murdering publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan.

He was killed on October 31, 2015.

Judge Md Mujibur Rahman of the special tribunal indicted them and set November 18 for commencement of the trial with recording deposition by the prosecution witnesses in the case.

Six of the accused who are in detention heard the charges from the dock while two others are still absconding.

The arrested in the case include suspected killing squad leader Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Sifat alias Shamim alias Samir, who had confessed to his role in the killing and pointed out the wider role of Major Zia in the killing of bloggers.

Also in police custody are trainer Abdus Sabur alias Abdus Samad alias Sujon, top Ansar al-Islam operatives Khairul Islam alias Jamil alias Jisan, Sheikh Abdullah alias Jubayer alias Jayed, Abu Siddique Sohel alias Sajid alias Shihab, and Mozammel Hossain alias Saimon.

The other two accused who are on the run are sacked army major Syed Ziaul Haque alias Major Zia and Akram Hossain alias Hasib.

The court read out the charges against the accused and asked the six suspects in the dock whether they were guilty or not, who pleaded ‘not guilty’, claimed to be innocent and prayed for justice.

Faisal Arefin Dipan, owner of publishing house Jagriti Prokashoni and son of Dhaka University professor Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq, was hacked to death inside his office at Aziz Super Market at Shahbagh in Dhaka on October 31, 2015.

Dipan was stabbed twice in the head and once in the neck with a machete, according to the autopsy report.

Dipan’s widow, Dr Razia Rahman, filed a murder case with the Shahbagh police station on November 2, 2015 against unidentified assailants.

On November 15, 2018 the investigation officer of the case submitted charge sheet against the eight Ansar al-Islam operatives to the court of Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and later the case documents were sent to Dhaka Anti- Terrorism Special Tribunal.Police in the charge sheet claimed that Ziaul Hoque ordered the killing and he was the key planner. He also trained Sabur, Khairul and Moinul before the killing.

On March 20 the tribunal accepted the charges in presence of the six suspects.

Just hours before the attack on Dipan, publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul and his friends – bloggers Ranadipam Basu and Tareque Rahim – were injured in a machete attack at Tutul’s publishing house ‘Shuddhaswar’ in Lalmatia of the capital.

The publishing houses of Dipan and Tutul had published books written by writer-blogger Avijit Roy, who had been murdered on the campus of Dhaka University eight months earlier while returning from the Ekushe Boimela on February 26, 2015.

A number of free thinkers and secular bloggers including Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananto Bijoy Das and Niloy Neel, LGBT activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy as well as worshippers and priests belonging to minority faiths were killed allegedly by religious extremist outfits  in the country in 2015 and 2016.

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