DHAKA — A magistrate in northeastern Bangladesh accepted charges against 10 men and issued arrest warrants for three alleged fugitives Monday in the beating death of a 13-year-old boy that stunned a nation used to violent crime because a video of him being tortured was posted online.
Magistrate Shahedul Karim decided to accept the police charges and fixed Aug. 31 for the next hearing, prosecution counsel Misbahuddin Siraj said. More hearings will be needed before the accused are formally indicted and the final phase of the trial can begin, Siraj said.
The boy, Samiul Islam Rajon, died of internal bleeding after being attacked in the northeastern city of Sylhet. The attackers allegedly were punishing him for stealing a bicycle, an allegation his family and police say is unfounded.
The alleged fugitives include the main suspect, Kamrul Islam, who has been detained in Saudi Arabia and is awaiting repatriation. Ten men are behind bars after being arrested with the help of local residents, who were said to have caught some of the attackers when they tried to dump the body.
Some of the accused men said they were innocent. The charges include murder or helping the alleged attackers. Defendants convicted of murder could face the death penalty.
Siraj said the magistrate at Monday’s hearing also asked the authorities to confiscate property of the fugitives.
The chilling, 28-minute video went viral online, triggering protests in the South Asian country, where such incidents are not rare. His body bore at least 64 injury marks, according to an autopsy report.
In the cellphone video, the boy is heard screaming in pain and pleading with his attackers: “Don’t beat me, please, will die, will die.” The attackers laughed at the boy when he asked for water.
Like many poor children in Bangladesh, Rajon was forced to leave school to work to help his family, in his case selling vegetables.