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Bangladesh court orders fresh probe into death of teenage girl

By Farid Ahmed, For CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hena Akhter's body is exhumed after the Bangladesh High Court's order
  • She died after being lashed in public; villagers found her guilty of having an affair, officials say
  • The imam of a local mosque had ordered the trial and lashing, officials say

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- A top court in Bangladesh has ordered a fresh probe into the death of a teenage girl who was lashed for having an affair with a married man last month, police said.

A team led by an executive magistrate exhumed the body of Hena Akhter in a village in the Shariatpur district, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the capital, Dhaka, on Monday night, hours after the High Court ordered a fresh post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of death.

A second autopsy was performed Tuesday. Medical officials declined to release any details on the results of the examination.

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, officials have said.

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

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

The police chief of the district, A.K.M. Shahidur Rahman, said that authorities had already detained the imam and other villagers.

The High Court order came after the first autopsy said that Hena's body did not bear any sign of external or internal injuries.

A bench composed of Justices A.H.M. Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Md. Zakir Hossain ordered a three-member expert team of doctors and a forensic specialist to conduct a fresh post-mortem examination.

The Bangladesh Supreme Court in June last year ruled that extrajudicial penalty based on fatwa is illegal, and the court last week asked the government to explain what steps had been taken to stop such actions.

In November, police arrested a Muslim cleric when a woman died after people allegedly following the cleric's order caned her in public on charge of adultery in northwest Rajshahi district.

 
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