A court in the southeastern city of Chittagong yesterday convicted 12 people of murdering journalist Kamal Hossein in 2004. Eleven of the defendants - five of them members of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) - were sentenced to life imprisonment and fines of 50,000 taka (610 euros). They said they would appeal. One, Mohamed Siraj was sentenced to death. Fourteen other people were acquitted.
Hossein was murdered on 22 August 2004 in Khagrachhari. He was the correspondent of the daily Ajker Kagoj and secretary-general of the Manikchari press club.
Investigative journalist murdered
Armed men abducted and murdered journalist, Kamal Hossain, of the daily Ajker Kagoj, on 22 August. He was the third journalist to be killed in Bangladesh since the beginning of the year.
Expressing its deep shock, Reporters Without Borders called on Home Affairs Minister for State Lutfuzzaman Babor, to do everything possible to see that an investigation will uncover the identity of those responsible.
"The situation for the press in Bangladesh has become alarming. Not a week goes by without a journalist being attacked or threatened," said the organisation.
Armed men burst into Hossain’s home overnight on 21-22 August. The journalist hid when he heard the raiders break in but gave himself up to them after they threatened to kill his two-year-old son. Police found the journalist’s body a few hours later two kilometres from his home.
His wife said that Hossain, who was also secretary general of the Manikchhari press club, had recently received death threats. He had been investigating cases linked to gangsterism. A few days before his murder he had helped police to identify some gang members.
Political militants, criminal gangs or religious extremists constantly target journalists in Bangladesh for brutal attack.
Since 18 August, the daily Prothorn Alo has received threats from several Islamist organisations angered by the newspaper’s expose on Middle East funding for the religious schools, the madrasas.
Five journalists were injured in grenade attacks on the Awami League opposition party rally in Dhaka on 21 August.
According to Reporters Without Borders’ tally, four journalists have been assaulted since 13 August and more than 60 others have been threatened in less than one month.