Five men have been sentenced to death by a court in Bangladesh for the death of a secular blogger in 2015 while one other man linked to the murder was handed a life sentence in prison. Avijit Roy was a U.S.-Bangladeshi who founded the blog site Mukto-Mona “Free Mind” in his advocacy to push for secular and humanist writing in the Muslim-majority of Bangladesh.

Roy was attacked with machetes as he left an annual book fair in Dhaka University campus with his wife who was critically wounded but had survived her injuries and now lives in the United States. In his autopsy report, Roy succumbed to three deep gashes, which cut through his skull to the brain.

The assault on Roy and his wife was primarily blamed on Islamist militants -- a banned group identified as Ansar al-Islam which is believed to linked with al-Qaeda, the BBC wrote.

Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Majibur Rahman handed down the death sentence in a packed courtroom in the presence of four defendants  Abu Siddique Sohel, Mozammel Hossain, Arafat Rahman and Akram Hossain. However, two of the men from the group remain at large including sacked army major Syed Ziaul Haque Zia who is also accused of leading the group that carried out the attack. Arrest warrants have been issued earlier on in the course of their trial. 

Another man, Shafiur Rahman Farabi was sentenced to life in jail.

According to the Daily Mail, Roy had been receiving multiple death threats over his writings before he was killed.  He was considered an atheist who has angered many religious fanatics through his blog posts. 

Shafiur Rahman Farabi had reportedly posted threats on Facebook in 2014 declaring Roy would be killed as soon as he returned to the country.

"Charges against them were proved beyond any doubt. The court gave them the highest punishment," public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said.

A string of deadly attacks took place in Bangladesh between 2013 and 2016 all of which were blamed on extremists inspired by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Police believe the Ansar al-Islam group was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers. 

Last week, the same court sentenced eight Islamic militants to death for the 2015 killing of a publisher of books on secularism and atheism, Faisal Arefin Dipan. He was found dead in his office in October 2015, because he had published books by secular writers, two of them by Avijit Roy.

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