Bangladeshi court sentences 10 Islamic militants to death

DHAKA (AFP) - A Bangladeshi court sentenced 10 Islamic militants to death on Thursday after finding them guilty of assisting a deadly suicide bombing in 2005, a prosecutor said.

The militants, from the outlawed Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), showed no remorse after a judge read out the verdict and sentence in a crowded court room in the capital, a special public prosecutor said.

"They assisted the suicide bomber in making the bomb, providing information, planning and carrying out the attack," special public prosecutor Rafiqul Islam told AFP.

The attack on an office of a lawyer association in November 2005 killed eight people, plus the bomber, and injured at least 100 others, the prosecutor said.

The bomber dressed in a traditional lawyers' gown, allowing him to enter the office in Gazipur just north of Dhaka without creating suspicion, before detonating his explosives, he said.

Judge Motaher Hossain ordered the sentence of the 10 militants be carried out by hanging, following a trial in one of Bangladesh's special fast-track courts.

The attack was one of a series of blasts the JMB carried out in 2005, raising fears that the moderate Muslim-majority nation of 153 million people would descend into an Afghanistan-styled Islamic militancy.

In one of the most brazen acts, militants detonated more than 400 small bombs in all but one district of the country on the same day, 17 August, 2005.

At least 28 people were killed in all of the attacks carried out by the JMB that took place between August and December that year.

The then Islamist-allied government cracked down on the banned group, hunting down its leaders and prosecuting more than 1,000 of its members. Six of the top leaders were hanged in 2007.

The JMB, led and founded by the Afghan-trained militant Shaikh Abdur Rahman said in pamphlets at the time that it did not recognise the country's "Satan-inspired" government and the attacks were aimed at introducing Sharia law in the country.