Six get death penalty for brutal child murders

Dhaka, November 8

A Bangladesh court today handed four men the death sentence over the brutal killing of a 13-year-old boy that provoked national outrage after video footage of the attack went viral, a lawyer said.

Another two men were ordered to hang for the separate torture and murder of another 13-year-old that occurred less than a month later, the prosecutor said.

In the first case, ten people were found guilty in the northeastern city of Sylhet of lynching Samiul Alam Rajon, a verdict that sparked cheers from hundreds of people gathered outside the courtroom.

“We’re happy with the judgement. Samiul’s parents are satisfied,” Shahidul Islam, a lawyer representing his family, said after the Metropolitan Sessions Court’s decision. “I am sure the verdict will send a powerful message to all those child beaters and molesters,” said Islam.

Samiul, accused of stealing a bicycle, was tied to a pole on July 8 and then subjected to a brutal assault in which he pleaded for his life. An autopsy found 64 separate injuries had been inflicted on the teenager.

A 28-minute video of the lynching, which was widely circulated after being posted on social media, prompted deep soul-searching among Bangladeshis as well as street protests to demand the perpetrators be hanged.

The lawyer told AFP that the main accused, Kamrul Islam, was sentenced to death. Three of his friends were given the same sentence, one of them in absentia after going on the run. Another six accused were given jail sentences ranging from life through to one year, he said.

Kamrul Islam also fled, to Saudi Arabia, a day after the attack, but he was later arrested and extradited after outraged members of the country’s large Bangladeshi expatriate community tipped off police.

In the video, the terrified youngster can be heard screaming in pain and repeating: “Please don’t beat me like this, I will die.”

At one stage he is told to walk away. But as he tries to get to his feet, one of the attackers shouts: “His bones are okay. Beat him some more.” Kamrul Islam’s lawyer said he would appeal.

“He did not deserve death as he did not have any intention to kill the boy,” the lawyer, who did not give his name, said.

In the second case in Khulna, a mechanic and his assistant were sentenced to death today for torturing a 13-year-old former employee to death with an air compressor used for inflating tyres.