Dhaka cafe attack: Student suspect acquitted

DHAKA • A man who was dining in a Dhaka cafe when it was attacked by Islamist militants and who was later detained as a suspect has been acquitted of terrorism charges and released on bail, police said.

Mr Tahmid Hasib Khan, 22, was at the Holey Artisan Bakery on the evening of July 1 when it was stormed by militants, beginning a 12-hour siege in which 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, two police officers and six suspected attackers died.

In video footage filmed by witnesses and militants, Mr Khan appeared holding a pistol and talking to the hostage- takers, but police said forensic analysis had shown the Toronto University student was forced to do so.

Based on these findings and there being no witnesses or other evidence of Mr Khan's involvement in the attack, a court in Dhaka acquitted him, Mr Masudur Rahman, spokesman for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told Reuters.

Mr Khan is the second person to be released without charge in an investigation that has led to only seven arrests, leading to criticism of the police by some newspapers and social media.

The first was Mr Hasnat Karim, a 47-year-old engineer who has British and Bangladeshi dual citizenship.

He was at the cafe with his family to celebrate his daughter's 13th birthday.

The cafe attack was the worst in a recent escalation of violence by Islamist militants in Bangladesh that has included a rise in killings of liberals and religious minorities in the mostly Muslim nation of 160 million.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'Dhaka cafe attack: Student suspect acquitted'. Print Edition | Subscribe