A Tangail court has sentenced four men to death and handed seven years imprisonment to another for raping and murdering law student Rupa Khatun.
The court also directed authorities to seize the bus in which the victim was raped and hand it over to her family.
Lawyers and rights activists hailed the verdict, especially since the court dealt with the case in only 14 days.
Rupa, 27, was raped and killed on a bus headed to Mymensingh by three assistants of the driver on August 25, last year.
Her body was thrown out of the bus in an empty forest area on Tangail-Mymensingh road.
The court of Abul Mansur Miah, acting judge of Tangail Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal, delivered the verdict yesterday morning.
The death row convicts are bus driver Habib Miah, 45, and his assistants Mohammad Shamim, 26, Akram, 35, and Jahangir, 20. Supervisor of the bus, Safar Ali alias, Gendu, 55, who was sleeping while the victim was raped, was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Tk 1 lakh.
The money paid by Gendu would be handed over to Rupa's family.
The convicts were present in the court.
Rupa's brother Hafizur Rahman Pramanik said the bereaved family had got justice.
"We would like to thank the government, journalists and many others who demanded justice," he told The Daily Star on the court premises.
“I hope no other girl meets the same fate as my sister.”
After closing the hearing of arguments, the court on February 5 announced the date for delivering the verdict.
"The prosecution has been able to prove the allegations against the accused beyond doubt. The accused is getting capital punishment for the hated crime," the judge said.
Although the incident was widely covered by the media, he said the verdict was entirely based on evidence.
AKM Nasimul Akter, special public prosecutor of the tribunal, expressed satisfaction over the verdict.
Shamim Chowdhury Dayal, the lawyer who defended the accused, said the accused had been denied justice and they would appeal against the verdict with the higher court.
Ataur Rahman Azad, Tangail unit general secretary of Bangladesh Manobadhikar Bastobayon Sangstha, a rights body which provided assistance to the prosecution, said, "The quick trial will be a milestone in the history of Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal in the country."
Hailing the verdict, eminent women rights lawyer Salma Ali said, “If every component of the state machinery works sincerely and promptly, it is possible to ensure justice within such a short time.”
She also hoped that the verdict would have a deterrent effect.
Rupa's body was recovered by police from beside Tangail-Mymensingh road at Pachishmile area in Madhupur upazila of Tangail hours after she was killed.
Seeing the news, Rupa's family members went to Madhupur Police Station on August 28 and identified her from the photographs of the victim's body and her clothes.
The law enforcers on the same day caught the suspects, who admitted their crimes during primary interrogation.
THE FATEFUL NIGHT
Life has been tough for Rupa since the early age. She paid for her education in school and college by teaching younger students.
She studied law as her father late Julhas Pramanik of Asanbari village under Tarash upazila in Sirajganj wanted her to become a lawyer.
Family members said she enrolled for LLB in a college in Dhaka after obtaining her master's degree in 2014. She also worked for a private company to support her studies.
She went to Bogra from her workplace in Sherpur on August 25 to sit for the teachers' registration examination.
Around 7:00pm, she, along with a male acquaintance who also sat for the exam, boarded a Mymensingh-bound bus of Chhoa Paribahan. He got down from the bus at Elenga in Tangail's Kalihati upazila.
After all other passengers had got down from the bus, Shamim forced Rupa to the back of the moving bus. As he tried to rape Rupa, she handed him Tk 5000 and her mobile phone and begged him to let her go.
Shamim took the money and the phone but raped her. Other convicts, Akram and Jahangir, also raped her while Habib was driving the bus and Gendu was sleeping.
When the bus came near Madhupur, Rupa started to scream for help. The three rapists then killed her by breaking her neck.