DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A special tribunal in Dhaka sentenced to death five Bangladeshi men for the killing of a Saudi diplomat early this year in what appeared to be a street crime gone wrong.
Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, a 45-year-old official in the Saudi Embassy’s consular section, was shot and killed near his home in Dhaka in early March.
Tribunal Judge Mohammad Motahar Hossain handed down the verdict Sunday about two months after the trial began in October, chief prosecutor Rafiqul Islam said. One of the men was tried in his absence, Islam said.
He said the men can appeal the verdict.
Initial speculation about the death focused on Iran, which has been accused of other international attacks or attempted attacks against diplomats, including Saudis. Iran denied the accusations.
Days after the shooting Saudi Arabia sent a team of investigators to assist Bangladeshi detectives.
During the trial the men pleaded not guilty even though after their arrest in July the four men told investigators they tried to rob the diplomat as he was going for a walk on the deserted street and shot him accidentally during a scuffle.
Police said the men were arrested after a revolver and a car used in the killing were found in their possession.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, which is a top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers.
Relations between the countries were tested in October last year, when Saudi Arabia beheaded eight Bangladeshi workers who were found guilty of robbing and killing an Egyptian.