Four arrested after Bangladesh girl 'lashed to death'

Crowd outside Hena Begum's house A crowd gathered outside the teenager's house after news of her death emerged

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Four people including a Muslim cleric have been arrested in Bangladesh in connection with the death of 14-year-old girl who was publicly lashed.

The teenager was accused of having an affair with a married man, police say, and the punishment was given under Islamic Sharia law.

Hena Begum's family members said a village court consisting of elders and clerics passed the sentence.

She was alleged to have had the affair with her cousin and received 80 lashes.

Punishment received

The family members of the married man also allegedly beat the girl up a day before the village court passed the sentence in the district of Shariatpur.

Hena Begum Hena Begum died after being taken to hospital

"Her family members said she was admitted to a hospital after the incident and she died six days later. The village elders also asked the girl's father to pay a fine of about 50,000 Taka (£430; $700)," district superintendent of police, AKM Shahidur Rahman, told the BBC.

He said it had not been established yet whether she died because of the punishment she received or another reason.

"We are still waiting for the post-mortem report. In the meantime, we are also looking for another 14 people including a teacher from a local madrassa in connection with this case," Mr Rahman said.

Activists say dozens of fatwas - or religious rulings - are issued under Sharia law each year by village clergy in Bangladesh.

"What sort of justice is this? My daughter has been beaten to death in the name of justice. If it had been a proper court then my daughter would not have died," Dorbesh Khan, the father of Hena Begum, told the BBC.

He said those responsible for the death should be punished.

A group of people held a rally on Wednesday in the town of Shariatpur in protest against those who gave the fatwa and demanded action against them.

This is the second reported fatality linked to a Sharia law punishment since the practice was outlawed last year by the High Court.

A 40-year-old woman in the district of Rajshahi died in December, days after she was publicly caned for allegedly having an affair with her stepson.

Nearly 90% of Bangladesh's estimated 160 million population are Muslims, most of whom practise a moderate version of Islam.

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