DHAKA (Reuters) - A court in Bangladesh on Tuesday indicted seven members of a banned Islamist group in the killing of a Japanese man last year, a prosecutor said.
Kunio Hoshi, 65, was gunned down by motorcycle-borne gunmen while on his way to visit a grass farm project in the northern district of Rangpur, less than a week after an Italian aid worker was similarly killed in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter.
The men were members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh group, and the court indicted them for the murder of the Japanese man, public prosecutor Rathish Chandra Bhowmik told reporters.
"The court fixed Jan. 4 for recording witnesses in the case," he said.
Five of the men pleaded not guilty in court, while two others are on the run.
Police believe the group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, carried out a July 1 attack on a cafe in which 22 people were killed, mostly foreigners, before security forces ended a 12-hour siege, killing five gunmen.
Islamic State and al Qaeda have claimed a series of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in Bangladesh in the past year.
Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the cafe attack but the government has dismissed suggestions the group has a presence in Bangladesh.
While authorities blame the violence on domestic militants, security experts say the scale and sophistication of the cafe attack suggested links to a trans-national network.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)