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Bangladeshi doctors to be charged with negligence in case of teen

By Farid Ahmed, For CNN
  • High Court rules 4 doctors wrote false post-mortem report
  • Girl, 14, bled to death after being flogged
  • She was charged with adultery; family says she was raped

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Four Bangladeshi doctors will face legal action on charges of hiding the cause of death of teenager Hena Akhter, who was flogged to death after villagers found her guilty of having an affair with a married man.

The High Court on Monday asked the government to sue the doctors, including the civil surgeon of Shariatpur district, where Hena had lived.

Justices AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Mohammed Zakir Hossain ruled that the doctors prepared a "false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena's death."

"We are appalled to see the magnitude of illegality," Chowdhury said.

The doctors are district civil surgeon Golam Sarwar and three medical officers of Shariatpur General Hospital, Nirmal Chandra Das, Hosne Ara Begum and Rajesh Majumder.

Hena, 14, died in a hospital on January 31 after being lashed in public following an order given by senior villagers led by the imam of a local mosque.

The villagers -- in the form of a trial based on a fatwa, or a religious ruling, -- found Hena guilty of having an affair with a married man of the same village.

Hena's family, however, claimed that the girl was actually raped by the man, Mahbubur Rahman.

"I've nothing to demand but justice since my daughter has been simply murdered in the form of a 'trial' by the elites in the village," Hena's father Darvish Khan, a day laborer, told CNN.

The first autopsy report done at the hospital in Shariatpur, 240 kilometers (149 miles) from the capital Dhaka, found no injuries and said it was suicide.

But in a court order, the body was exhumed in February and the second autopsy was done at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where the doctors said Hena bled to death and the body bore the marks of severe injuries.

Later, a seven-member high-powered committee headed by the director general of health, Khandaker Mohammed Sifayet Ullah, examined both the reports and found the second one authentic.

The government committee that submitted the report to the court concluded that the four doctors of Shariatpur were guilty of negligence.

Khan said, "Hena was a seventh-grader last year and I had to stop her from going to the school as Mahbub started harassing Hena on her way to school and home."

Leading rights activist Sultana Kamal told CNN, "What happened to Hena is unfortunate and we all have to be ashamed that we couldn't save her life."

The High Court has banned fatwas, but few people have been prosecuted for disobeying the ban.

As a result, local religious leaders have continued to issue fatwas.

"The state-sponsored Islamisation also to blame for recurrence of such incidents," said Kamal, who heads the oldest rights organization in the country, Ain O Shalish Kendro (Law and Mediation Center).

"The government needs to enact specific law to deal with such perpetrators responsible for extrajudicial penalty in the name of Islam," she said.