Death penalty required for 8 people accused of murdering LGBT rights activist Xulhaz, Tonoy

Golam Sarwar Khan Zakir ended his plea for the death penalty on Sunday before the special anti-terrorism court in Dhaka.

Defense lawyer Nazrul Islam then began to make his case. Judge Mojibur Rahman Rahman has set himself Monday to finish hearing the rest of the defense arguments.

Along with Zia, an Islamist militant leader, charges were brought against Akram Hossain, Sabbirul Hoque Chowdhury, Moulana Zunaid Ahmed, Mozammel Hossain aka Saimon, Arafat Rahman, Sheikh Abdullah and Asadullah.

Among them, Zia, Akram, Sabbirul and Zunaid are on the run.

On April 25, 2016, Xulhaz was stabbed to death in his apartment in Kalabagan with Tonoy.

The attack was part of a series of assassinations linked to activists of secular activists and religious minorities. The investigation found Islamist activists responsible for the murders of Xulhaz and Tonoy.

A graduate in international relations from the University of Dhaka, Xulhaz, 35, joined the United States Embassy in 2007 before taking on what would be his last assignment with USAID.

He also edited Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s leading LGBT magazine.

Tonoy, 26, was involved in the Lok Natyadal theater troupe. He taught theater to children in an organization called Peoples Theater.

A policeman on patrol, who tried to stop the attackers, was also injured in the process. The assistant sub-inspector managed to snatch a bag containing two firearms, ammunition and a cell phone from the attackers.

That same night, Xulhaz’s brother launched a murder investigation against five to six unidentified suspects at the Kalabagan police station. Another case was also opened regarding the attack on the policeman and the confiscated firearms.

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