Bangladesh: Madrasa Principal Among 16 Awarded Death Penalty For Burning Student Who Filed Sexual Harassment Complaint

Nusrat Jahan Rafi (Pic Via Facebook)

A Bangladesh court on Thursday (24 October) sentenced 16 people to death for the murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a teenager who was burnt to death in April after she had filed a sexual harassment complaint against her teacher at a religious school.

SM Siraj-Ud-Doula, the madrasa principal who orchestrated the attack on the 19-year-old, was among those sentenced to death. All the 16 convicts were present at the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal in Feni district during the hearing.

The Tribunal also imposed a fine of 100,000 taka ($1,190 approximately) on each convict, reports Efe news.

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"All the accused have been sentenced to death by the court," the plaintiff's lawyer Shahjahan Saju told reporters after the verdict was delivered by the tribunal.

"The court asked the Feni district magistrate to realize the fine from each accused and hand it to Nusrat's family as compensation," he said.

The incident took place on 6 April as she attended the seminary in her hometown Feni, a small town 160 km away from Dhaka, to sit in her final examinations.

She was lured to the rooftop of the building, where her attackers wearing burqas asked her to withdraw the sexual harassment complaint against Doula.

When she refused, she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, the BBC reported.

Her brother, Mahmudul Hasan, told Efe news that when he was traveling in an ambulance to the hospital with his sister, she recounted how "the attackers pressed her to withdraw the complaint, but she rejected it". Hasan had recorded the testimony of his sister with the mobile phone.

He said the family was satisfied with the death penalty verdict.

"But we are feeling a sense of insecurity because the accused threatened (us) openly in court. We expect Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) to ensure our security as she had promised," he said.

Nusrat's murder sparked protests across Bangladesh with Hasina pledging to bring the perpetrators to justice. The school principal was arrested a day after the complaint was filed on 28 March.

Police Bureau of Investigation chief Banaj Kumar Majumder had told Efe news that the attackers tried to make it look like a "suicide".

After filing her complaint, Nusrat also recorded a statement at the local police station where the officer in charge filmed the proceedings.

A leaked clip showed the officer registering her complaint but dismissing it as "not a big deal". The officer has been arrested and was being tried under the digital security act.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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