Bangladesh court hands down death sentences for blogger killing

Ahmed Rajib Haider (far left) with his wife and parents. Haider was the first blogger to be killed in a string of secular writers and publishers who have been murdered in Bangladesh. Haider, a secular blogger, was hacked to death in the Mirpur section of the capital Dhaka in February 2013.

Story highlights

  • Seven sentenced -- two to death -- for the 2013 murder of a secularist blogger in Bangladesh
  • One of the men given jail time is a leader in the Ansarullah Bangla militant group
  • Advocacy group, blogger's father condemn the prison sentences as being too lenient

(CNN)Two men have been sentenced to death for their role in the 2013 murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider, a secular blogger from Bangladesh. A further five, including Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani, a senior figure in the Ansarullah Bangla militant group, were given prison sentences.

The two men handed death sentences were named as Faisal bin Nayem and Rezwanul Azad Rana.
    Rana, named the "mastermind" of the killing by local media, remains on the run and was convicted in absentia, Farukh Hossain, superintendent of police, Dhaka tells CNN.
    Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani was given a five-year sentence for his role in the killing.
    Haider was the first in a string of secular writers and publishers who have been murdered in Bangladesh. In total six have been killed since Haider was hacked to death in the Mirpur section of the capital Dhaka in February 2013.

    Verdicts condemned

    Imran Sarkar, the head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network, an advocacy group in Bangladesh, said that the group "boycotted" the verdict, arguing that the sentencing was too lenient for some of the accused.
    "All of the accused are self-declared killers. There should have been capital punishment on all of them," he said.
    "This is completely unacceptable."
    Haider's father told CNN that he was "extremely sad and disappointed" over the verdict.
    "They intentionally killed my son... I did not get the justice I expected."
    Foreigners and Shia Muslims have been killed in Bangladesh this year, in attacks claimed by ISIS.
    Those attacks included a September 28 killing of an Italian national, an October 3 killing of a Japanese national and October 24 bombings against Shia Muslims in a religious procession, according to the State Department.
    The U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh warned U.S. citizens this week that attacks against hotels and clubs are possible in Dhaka in the next few days, perhaps in connection with New Year's Eve celebrations.