DHAKA, Bangladesh — A leader of a hard-line Islamist group and seven students were indicted Wednesday in connection with the hacking death of an atheist blogger two years ago.
The Metropolitan Sessions court issued the indictments after accepting the police investigation into the killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in front of his house in Dhaka.
The indictments covered Mufti Jasimuddin Rahmani, head of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, and six students at North South University who earlier confessed involvement in the killing. A seventh student said to have planned the attack is in hiding.
Rahmani and the six students pleaded not guilty Wednesday. The judge set April 21 for the start of the trial, and the seventh student will be tried in absentia.
In their report, police said Rahmani incited the seven students to murder Haider in sermons in which he said all atheist bloggers should be killed to protect Islam.
Haider had criticized the Prophet Mohammed and Islam in his blog. He was also a leading campaigner for banning the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, which opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971. Police said the student who allegedly planned the attack is a member of Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir. The party has denied involvement in the killing.