Communist Party of Bangladesh activists hold posters demanding justice for Nusrat Jahan Rafi during their track campaign protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 20, 2019. According to reports, student Nusrat died five days after she was set on fire on April 6 by a group of five people. The case sparked outrage all over the country. Photo: IC
A court in Bangladesh sentenced 16 people to death on Thursday over the murder of a 19-year-old female student burnt alive in April that provoked outrage across the country.
Nusrat Jahan Rafi was doused in kerosene and set on fire after refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against the head teacher of the seminary she attended.
"The verdict proves that nobody will get away with murder in Bangladesh. We have the rule of law," prosecutor Hafez Ahmed told reporters after the verdict in a crowded courtroom.
Rafi was lured to the rooftop of the seminary where her attackers pressed her to withdraw the complaint she had filed with police.
When she refused, she was tied up, doused in kerosene and set on fire. She suffered burns to 80 percent of her body and died in hospital five days later on April 10.
Her death triggered outrage and also highlighted an alarming rise in sexual harassment cases in the South Asian country of 165 million people.
Protesters in the capital Dhaka staged days of demonstrations seeking "exemplary punishment" for the killers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had promised to prosecute all those involved.
Rafi had gone to police in late March to report the sexual harassment, and a leaked video shows the local police station chief registering her complaint but dismissing it as "not a big deal."
At the time police had said that one of the 18 people initially arrested had accused the school's principal of ordering the attack.)