Death sentence for 16 people over murder of Bangladesh student Nusrat Jahan Rafi who accused teacher of harassment

Sixteen people have been sentenced to death over the murder of a young Bangladeshi woman who accused a head teacher of sexual harassment.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi was lured to a rooftop of a cyclone shelter and doused with kerosene on April 6 and set on fire.

The 19-year-old suffered 80% burns and died five days after the attack in the city of Feni, about 100 miles south east of the capital Dhaka.

A court on Thursday convicted the group of co-conspirators that included the teacher she accused of sexual harassment, two other teachers, at least two of her female classmates and a number of senior male figures from the local community.

Nusrat's death provoked country-wide protests. Credit: AP

According to the Dhaka Tribune newspaper, Hafez Ahmed, Public Prosecutor at the Feni District Judge Court, said: “The court indicted 16 people according to Section 4(1), 4 (1) 30 of the Women and Children Prevention Repression Act.

"All of the accused were directly and indirectly reportedly involved in money laundering and sexual harassment issues surrounding the case.”

Her family says the attack came after she refused to back down from a complaint – reportedly described as “no big deal” by police – against her own head teacher.

Nusrat's killing provoked country-wide protests and outrage, prompting the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to promise all those responsible would be prosecuted.

It's understood those convicted will appeal the verdicts.

Human Rights Watch, which has been monitoring the case, said earlier this year that it had drawn attention to Bangladesh’s “poor record” for dealing with and preventing cases of sexual assault and rape.

Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director, said: “The horrifying murder of a brave woman who sought justice shows how badly the Bangladesh government has failed victims of sexual assault.

“Nusrat Jahan Rafi’s death highlights the need for the Bangladesh government to take survivors of sexual assault seriously and ensure that they can safely seek a legal remedy and be protected from retaliation.”