A Bangladesh tribunal on Thursday sentenced 16 persons to death for their involvement in the murder of nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi, who died in hospital, four days after being attacked and set on fire on 10 April, for protesting against sexual abuse by the principal of a madrasa in the country's Feni district more than six months ago.
Judge Mamunur Rashid of the Feni Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal announced the verdict in the presence of all the convicts, including Principal SM Siraj-Ud-Doula.
The death sentence verdict was announced based on a police investigation report that said that a mob of male and female students doused Nusrat with kerosene on the roof of her school near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on 6 April before setting her on fire.
Principal Siraj-ud-Daula had "told them (the students) to put pressure on Nusrat to withdraw the case or kill her if she refused", news agency AFP quoted Senior Police Superintendent Mohammad Iqbal as saying in April this year.
"The plan was to pass the incident off as a suicide. But it fell through after Rafi managed to come downstairs while on fire because the scarf burnt and freed her hands and feet", he said.
He added that at least five of the seventeen arrested following the deadly incident had tied Nusrat up with a scarf before setting her on fire.
Nusrat had approached the police in March, saying the headmaster of the Islamic school had called her into his office and touched her inappropriately, but her complaint was dismissed.
Later, numerous pupils from her school organised a rally in support of the principal and threatened the girl and her family.