Nine held after Bangladesh gangrape victim kills herself

February 24th, 2011 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 24 (IANS) A Roman Catholic priest and nine other tribal Christians have been detained for their role in an out-of-court settlement of a gangrape case that caused the girl to commit suicide when the promised marriage did not come through. Police have claimed that Father Bernard Tudu and others “provoked” the 14-year-old into a situation where marriage to one of the alleged rapists as part of the settlement did not come through, causing her to commit suicide.

The girl, gangraped last year, set herself afire in a village in Godagari sub-district of western Bangladesh’s Rajshahi district earlier this week.

While the girl’s father says he was coerced into reaching the settlement by the church leaders, Father Tudu denies a formal involvement of the church.

However, Father Tudu says the settlement was reached “for the sake of the community” on the church premises and he had custody of Taka 140,000 ($2,000) that the perpetrators deposited as part of the settlement.

The girl committed suicide after the promised marriage did not come through.

Christians are a small minority in Bangladesh that is predominantly Muslim.

The authorities have taken the stand that out-of-court settlement was illegal. The court closed the case as no witness came forward to support the victim.

Of the nine people arrested Wednesday, Bishwanath Tudu presided over the settlement, said Zakirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Godagari police station.

Ain O Salish, a human rights group, has said that the out-of-the court settlement is illegal.

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