05/19/2010, 00.00
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Dhaka, female murder victim laid to rest in Christian cemetery

by William Gomes
The identity of the victim, whose body was found April 30 at the edge of a road, is unknown. The authorities have entrusted the task of burial to the Catholic Church because she wore a medallion with the image of the Virgin Mary. The body showed signs of violence.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The identity of the Bangladeshi woman, victim on 30 April of a probable murder, remains unknown, but she can at least rest in peace - buried in a Christian cemetery in Dhaka. For more than two weeks, her body was kept in a morgue. On 16 May the judge ordered Christian burial rites.  The decision was taken because the murdered woman wore a necklace with the image of the Virgin Mary.

Sahjahan Hossain deputy inspector of police in Badda - a sub-district of Dhaka - reports that "on April 30 last we found the body of a dead woman wrapped in blankets in a manhole at the roadside." The body showed signs of torture and abuse, especially to the neck and head. But the police officer’s attention was attracted by a medal with the image of the Virgin Mary, which she wore at the time of the murder, and from which they deduced her "probable" Christian faith.

The woman's corpse was held in the morgue for 19 days, without anyone coming forward to indentify the body.  Pictures of the woman were released in newspapers and on TV, but to no avail.  On 16 May, the chief judge of Dhaka ordered her burial in the Christian cemetery of the capital, the police, meanwhile, have opened an investigation for murder against unknown persons.

At first the authorities have sought the aid of Anjuman Mopfidul, who deals with the burial of unidentified bodies. He objected, explaining that the woman was wearing a Christian medal and should not be buried among Muslims.

When police issued the clearance, Fr. Joyti Costa of St. Mary's Cathedral, celebrated the funeral and proceeded to give a decent burial to the unidentified body. A decision welcomed by human rights activists, who applaud the choice of the Catholic Church to "look first of all to love of the person, rather than the religion they belong to".

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