16 get death penalty for fatal burning of Bangladesh teen

A special Bangladeshi tribunal Thursday sentenced 16 people to die for the killing of 19-year-old Nusrat Rafi, who was burned alive earlier this year after claiming a teacher at her Islamic school sexually harassed her.

Communist Party of Bangladesh activists hold posters demanding justice for Nusrat Rafi in April. A tribunal on Thursday sentenced 16 to death for the teenager’s death. File Photo by Monirul Alam/

Siraj Ud Doula, the head teacher at the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa, was one of the 16 people sentenced. Doula has denied involvement in Rafi’s death and said through his attorney he will appeal the ruling.

Twelve of those connected with the case confessed to the scheme in which Rafi was drenched in kerosene and set on fire after she refused to withdraw the sexual harassment complaint against Doula.

Rafi sustained burns on 80 percent of her body on April 6 and died four days later at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Her death sparked protests around the country.

Human rights groups said Rafi’s death spotlighted a culture of impunity around sexual crimes against women and children and the peril they face in reporting harassment. Despite new laws, violence against women in Bangladesh remained high.

Rafi’s brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman had asked for the death penalty in the case.

“I hope that the convicts receive maximum punishment in the case as they have already given a confessional statement,” Noman said.

The Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribune in Feni sentenced Doula and the others in the case. The tribunal will now send the cases to the Bangladesh High court for approval.

“What we found out during the investigation we could prove it in paper,” Police Bureau of Investigation Deputy Inspector General Banaj Kumar Majumder said. “We feel that all the accused are equally guilty over the murder. We are happy that our expectations were reflected in the court verdict.”

ByClyde Hughes