Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Bangladeshi girl who was publicly whipped for an alleged affair with a married man bled to death, according to a fresh post-mortem examination

Doctors in Dhaka found multiple injuries on the body of Hena Begum, the deputy attorney general said. The High Court ordered her body to be exhumed and taken to the capital after a local autopsy recorded no injuries. Begum died in hospital six days after her beating, which has caused shock in Bangladesh and abroad. Police have opened a murder investigation. The doctors who carried out the initial investigation have been summoned to explain their findings in the High Court. The second post-mortem examination was carried out by a team of doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Hena Begum, also called Hena Akter, was buried on January 31, 2011. She was 14. Previously, she had received about 80 lashes in her village of Chamta in Shariatpur district, about 56 miles from Dhaka. A village court consisting of elders and clerics had accused her of having an affair with a fellow villager and cousin, Mahbub Khan. Her family say she was innocent of the accusations. Khan was also found guilty - of rape - by the village council and sentenced to be lashed, but he managed to escape during his punishment. Police have named him as the main accused in the case. They said that he had been arrested near Dhaka. He could face rape or even murder charges if the courts find that his actions ultimately led to his cousin's death. Four others including a Muslim cleric have also been arrested in connection with the death. The High Court stepped in following local media reports that there had been a deliberate attempt to cover up the case in Shariatpur. This is the second reported case of a fatality linked to a Sharia law punishment since the practice was outlawed in 2010 by the High Court. In December 2010, a woman of 40 died in Rajshahi district after being publicly caned for an alleged affair with her stepson.

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