Charges framed against all eight accused over gang-rape of woman in September last year
A tribunal in Sylhet has indicted all eight accused in a case filed over the gang rape of a newly-wed woman at Murari Chand (MC) College hostel.
Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal Judge Md Mohitul Haque on Sunday opened the trial of the case after framing charges against them during a hearing, said Special Public Prosecutor Rashida Syeda Khanam.
The tribunal fixed January 24 for recording deposition of the witnesses.
The prosecution read out the charges and asked Saifur Rahman, Shah Md Mahbubur Rahman alias Rony, Tariqul Islam alias Tarek, Arjun Laskar, Md Ainuddin alias Ainul, Misbaul Islam alias Rajon, Rabiul Islam, and Mahfuzur Rahman alias Masum if they were guilty. They all pleaded not guilty.
All eight also happen to be activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League.
On September 25 last year, the eight accused picked up a newly-wed couple from the main entrance of the MC College at Tilagar in Sylhet city.
The couple went to visit the college by car in the evening when the perpetrators started harassing the woman, according to police.
As her husband confronted them, they beat him up.
The perpetrators drove the couple forcibly to the college's male student dormitory at Baluchar. They gang-raped the woman, 19, inside the car, and tied up her husband in the hostel premises.
After police rescued the couple, the rape survivor's husband filed a case with Shah Paran police station accusing six people citing their names and two to three unnamed others.
During the hearing, the tribunal rejected petitions filed by Saifur, Rony, and Rabiul seeking discharge from the case, said the public prosecutor.
It also rejected bail petitions filed by Rony and Arjun, she added.
On December 3, police pressed charges against the accused in the gang rape case.
Shah Paran police station Inspector (Investigation) Indranil Bhattacharya, also the investigating officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet before the court of Sylhet Metropolitan Magistrate Abul Kashem.
According to police, they found direct involvement by Saifur, Rony, Tarek, Arjun, Ainul, and Rajon in the rape, while Rabiul and Masum abetted them in the crime.
On January 12, the tribunal accepted the charge sheet and fixed January 17 for hearing on charge framing in the case.
On November 29, police received the DNA report that confirmed the involvement of the accused in the incident.
On September 30, 2020 the High Court formed an investigation committee to look into the incident.
Later, all of the accused gave their confessional statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure after they were taken to remand.
Highest punishment for rape
The rape incident at MC College and another in Noakhali fuelled countrywide protests against sexual violence against women that prompted the government to amend the relevant law with a provision of capital punishment for rape.
The much-talked-about Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was then passed in parliament on November 17 for ensuring death penalty as the highest punishment for the heinous crime.
Last year, 1,627 women were raped or gang-raped across Bangladesh, according to rights body Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).
Fifty-three of them were murdered after rape and 14 of the victims took their own lives, it said.
But the actual number is believed to be higher as many victims choose not to report assaults fearing for their safety.