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Bangladesh postpones verdict on 800 soldiers over mutiny

AFP | Last Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 23:48

Dhaka: A Bangladesh court has postponed a long-awaited verdict on some 800 soldiers who faced the death penalty if convicted over a bloody 2009 military mutiny, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The court had been expected to deliver its ruling on Wednesday on the soldiers who allegedly went on a killing spree at their barracks in Dhaka, later dumping victims` bodies in sewers and shallow graves.

The lead prosecutor in the current case, Mosharraf Hossain, told AFP that the judgement, which had been due on Wednesday morning, has been delayed as the judge needed more time to finish writing his verdict.

"The judgement will not be delivered tomorrow. A new date will be fixed later," Hossain told AFP.

The delay comes as the country reels from deadly street clashes between supporters of the opposition and ruling party activists and police.

At least 17 people have been killed since Friday when the opposition began a push to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to quit and make way for elections under a neutral caretaker government.

Nearly 6,000 soldiers have already been jailed by dozens of special courts over the uprising that began at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters and left 57 top army officers massacred.

Some 823 soldiers were singled out for prosecution and trial in a civilian court after they were already found guilty in military courts over their role in the mutiny.

Twenty-three civilians have also been charged with criminal conspiracy.
Most of the 823 paramilitary border guards face the death penalty if convicted while the civilians face jail terms.

The 30-hour mutiny in October 2009 saw soldiers turn their guns on their commanders, hacking, torturing and burning them alive before hiding their bodies in sewers.

The mutineers stole an estimated 2,500 weapons and broke into a meeting of top BDR officers before shooting them at point blank range.

As the mutiny spread to BDR bases across Bangladesh, it briefly threatened the new government of Hasina, which had been elected only one month previously.

First Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 23:48

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