Activists of the Bangladesh General Council for the Preservation of Student Rights organized a protest rally to demand justice for Abrar Fahad. (Photo by Mamunur Rashid / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
- One student was beaten by 25 classmates for criticizing the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on social media.
- Twenty students were sentenced to death while five were sentenced to life in prison.
- The 21-year-old college student had posted a post on Facebook that went viral hours before his death.
Bangladesh sentenced 20 college students to death on Wednesday for the brutal 2019 murder of a young man who criticized the government on social media.
The ill-fated body of 21-year-old Abrar Fahad was found in his university dormitory hours after he wrote a Facebook post criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for signing a water-sharing deal with India.
He was hit with a cricket bat and other blunt objects for six hours by 25 teammates who were members of the Awami League student wing, the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL).
“I am happy with the verdict,” Fahad’s father, Barkat Ullah, told reporters outside the court after the verdict. “I hope the punishments are met soon.”
Prosecutor Abdullah Abu told AFP that the remaining five perpetrators had been sentenced to life in prison.
All those sentenced to death were between 20 and 22 years old and attended the elite of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology alongside Fahad.
Three of the defendants remain at large while the rest were in the courtroom.
A lawyer for the defendants said the sentence would be appealed.
“The highest punishment”
Fahad had posted a post on Facebook that went viral hours before his death.
In it, he criticized the government for signing an agreement that allowed India to take water from a river that is on the border shared by the two countries.
Fahad had been seen in leaked CCTV footage that went viral on social media, entering a bedroom with some BCL activists.
About six hours later, his body was carried away by the students and lying on the ground.
The BCL has gained notoriety in recent years after some of its members were charged with murder, violence and extortion.
In 2018, its members allegedly used violence to crack down on a major anti-government student protest.
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These protests were sparked by anger over road safety after a student was killed by a high-speed bus.
Protesters have called for the attackers to be severely punished and for the BCL to be banned.
Hasina promised shortly after the attacks that the killers would have the “highest punishment.”
Death sentences are common in Bangladesh with hundreds of people on death row. All executions are by hanging, a legacy of the British colonial era.
In August, a court sentenced six Islamist extremists to death for the brutal killings of two gay rights activists.