Bangladesh sentences 16 to death over Nusrat Jahan Rafi murder

Bangladesh sentences 16 to death over Nusrat Jahan Rafi murder

A court in southern Bangladesh has sentenced 16 people to death over the murder of a student who was set on fire after she accused a teacher at an Islamic school of sexual harassment. 

The ruling by a special women and children's tribunal on Monday came six months after 19-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi's murder. 

The young woman had died of burn wounds in April after she was doused in kerosene and set alight for refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against the principal of a school where she was a student. 

Hafez Ahmed, lead prosecutor in the case, welcomed Monday's verdict, saying it proved no one could get away with murder in Bangladesh. "It's an achievement for the judiciary," he said.

Mahmudul Hasan Noman, Rafi's brother, said he was "happy" to see justice served in his sister's killing.

"They all took part in the murder. Now they have to face the consequences," he said.  

Siraj Ud Doula, head teacher at the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa, was among the 16 sentenced to death. He denied involvement in the killing but 12 of the suspects had confessed to the crime, according to prosecutors.  

Doula's lawyer, Mahfuzul Haque, said he would appeal the ruling. 

"I believe the evidence against my client was not properly scrutinised," he said. 

Speaking a day before the verdict, Rafi's father AKM Musa Manik said he hoped to get justice.

"The whole country had seen what happened to my daughter. She was an innocent girl and was brutally murdered for her strong stance against a wrongdoing."

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