Bangladesh Considers Death Sentence for Traffic Wrecks

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Bangladesh’s cabinet on Monday will consider capital punishment for traffic accident deaths as tens of thousands of students protested for a ninth day over the deaths of two teenagers killed by a speeding bus in Dhaka, reports Reuters. The crowded capital of 18 million has been paralyzed by angry student protests demanding changes to transport laws following the July 29 deaths, after a privately operated bus ran over a group of students. Handing down the death penalty for accidents is rare anywhere in the world, and Bangladesh transport officials listed measures ranging from 14 years in Britain in extreme cases to two years in India. Three years in jail is the current maximum in Bangladesh.

Defying government warnings to end the protests, students in school uniforms have blocked most of Dhaka’s roads. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who faces an election soon, has accused her political rivals of trying to stir up anti-government sentiment using the deaths as a pretext. Police said they were investigating an attack Sunday on a car carrying the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Bernicat, by a group of armed men, some riding motorcycles. There were no injuries but two vehicles were damaged. Earlier the U.S. embassy had criticized the police crackdown on the protesters, whom it described as having “united and captured the imagination of the whole country.”

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