A court in southern Bangladesh sentenced 16 people to death on Thursday for the killing of a young woman in a horrific attack earlier this year. Nusrat Jahan Rafi, 19, was set on fire on April 6 after she and her family refused to withdraw sexual harassment charges against the principal of the Islamic school she attended.
16 sentenced to death for brutal murder of Bangladeshi teen set alight at her madrasa
She died of her injuries four days later, sparking widespread protests across the South Asian nation and prompting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to promise speedy justice. The principal of the seminary, Siraj Ud Doula, against whom Rafi filed the criminal harassment complaint, was among the people sentenced to death by the special court in Feni, about 100 miles southeast of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
Police said Doula ordered the murder from prison, where he was being held after his arrest on Rafi’s complaint. Two politicians of the ruling Awami League, Ruhul Amin and Maksud Alam, were also among those sentenced to death. The others were two teachers and 11 students — two of them female — at the Islamic school, or madrasa. Bangladeshi media said there was anger and wailing in the courtroom when the verdict was delivered. All 16 of the accused and their family members were present in the court, which was surrounded by police. “The verdict proves that nobody will get away with murder in Bangladesh. We have the rule of law,” prosecutor Hafez Ahmed said after the ruling was announced. The convicted murderers were expected to appeal their sentences to a higher court in the country. A brutal murderRafi registered a police complaint against the principal in March, alleging that he had called her into his office and touched her inappropriately. Police arrested Doula a few days after receiving the complaint. In jail, Doula told associates “to put pressure on Rafi to withdraw the case, or kill her if she refused,” senior police superintendent Mohammad Iqbal, who led the investigation, told French news agency AFP.