Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court today sentenced to death 152 soldiers in one of the world`s biggest ever mass criminal trials for their role in a 2009 mutiny and massacre of 74 people, including top army officers.
A total of 820 ex-paramilitary soldiers and 26 civilians were put on trial and Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Court Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman gave life imprisonment to 158 rebel soldiers and jail terms of three to 10 years to 251 others, while 271 were acquitted.
Touhid Ahmed, former deputy assistant director of the Bangladesh Rifles, now known as Border Guard Bangladesh, was among those given capital punishment. He was the key leader of the mutineers.
"They will be hanged by neck until they are dead," the judge announced to a packed courtroom.
Tight security was put in place around the makeshift court complex on the ground of a madrassa in Old Dhaka as the accused were brought in vans from the nearby Central Jail. They heard the judgement from a huge caged dock.
The paramilitary border guards staged a two-day mutiny over pay and other grievances against military leaders during February 25-26, 2009.
The mutiny took place two months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office.
Then BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed was among those killed and the mutineers hacked to death, tortured and burnt alive 74 people whose bodies were dumped in sewers and shallow graves in Dhaka.
During the uprising at BDR headquarters, the mutineers stole 2,500 weapons, broke into a meeting of top officers and shot them at close range.