A Bangladeshi girl who was whipped after an alleged affair bled to death, a post mortem has found, the BBC reports.
The body of Hena Begum, 15, was exhumed on court orders, an official said on Tuesday, as public anger grew over the illegal sharia punishment, according to AFP.
Begum died in hospital last week after being publicly lashed with a rope by village elders, including local clerics, in rural Shariatpur district over an alleged extra-marital affair with her cousin.
An initial investigation by police found “no external injury marks” on Hena – triggering outcry from activists.
“The body was exhumed late on Monday and brought to Dhaka,” attorney general Mahbubey Alam told AFP, adding that the High Court had acted after media claims that police and authorities were covering up the case.
The BBC reported that the new examination has found multiple injuries, and a murder investigation has now been opened.
The court has summoned the doctors who carried out the first autopsy.
Police have arrested four people, including a cleric, for their role in the punishment, and are looking for more than a dozen other people in connection with the case.
Hena passed out during the whipping and died one week later in hospital.
In conservative parts of Muslim-majority Bangladesh, rights groups say it is common for women to be publicly whipped for “crimes” such as adultery despite a ban on such religious punishments.
In some documented cases, rape victims have been flogged for being a “participant” in their sexual assault.
Last July, Bangladesh’s High Court outlawed punishments handed down by religious edict, or fatwa, following a series of public interest litigation cases lodged by local human rights groups.
But the ruling has had little effect, rights groups say, pointing to a case in December where a woman died after being whipped 40 times after she was accused of sleeping with her stepson by a similar village court.