June 28, 2006

Bangladesh court acquits 23 over concert bombing

DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladesh court on Wednesday acquitted
all 23 accused in a bomb attack that killed 10 people in the
country's southwest seven years ago and ordered the case be
re-investigated, court officials said.

The bomb went off during an open-air music concert in the
town of Jessore, 300 km (185 miles) from Dhaka, on March 6,

"The accused have been acquitted as police failed to
produce any clear evidence against them," a court official
quoted judge M. Abul Hossen Bepari as saying.

Bepari questioned the charges filed against the accused,
saying recently detained Islamist militants had claimed
involvement in the attack.

"Police should re-investigate the case and file charges
afresh against the real culprits with enough evidence to
substantiate the charges," a defense lawyer quoted the judge as

Security officials said detained Islamist militants
including Shayek Abdur Rahman, chief of the outlawed
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group, and Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai,
leader of another outlawed group Jagrata Muslim Janata
Bangladesh, confessed during police interrogation to
involvement in the concert bombing.

The two Islamist groups want to turn Muslim dominated
Bangladesh into a sharia-based Islamic country.

In May, a court sentenced Shayek and Bangla Bhai along with
five others to death by hanging for their involvement in
killing two judges late last year.