A court in eastern Bangladesh sentenced the principal of an Islamic school and 15 others to death on Thursday over the killing of an 18-year-old woman who was set on fire for refusing to drop sexual harassment charges against the principal. Judge Mamunur Rashid found Principal Siraj Ud Doula and the others guilty of either killing the woman or ordering her death in April, the AP reports. The brutality of the death triggered nationwide protests. Tens of thousands of people attended Nusrat Jahan Rafi's funeral prayers in her hometown, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged that her family would get quick justice. All of the defendants, including a local ruling party member and some students at the school, were in the court in handcuffs during the reading of the verdict.
The principal, who had smiled as he was brought into the court, cried after the verdict was announced, local media reported. The defendants began shouting and screaming as they were taken away in a police van. Defense lawyer Giasuddin Nannu said all 16 defendants would appeal the verdict. Rafi said she was lured to the roof of her rural school in Feni town and told to withdraw the charges by five people clad in burqas. When she refused, she said her hands were tied and she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. She died four days later with burns covering 80% of her body. Rafi told the story to her brother in an ambulance as she was taken to a hospital and he recorded it on his mobile phone. Days earlier, she filed a complaint with police that the principal of her madrasa had called her into his office and repeatedly touched her inappropriately.
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