Bangladesh set to try main BDR mutiny accused

Bangladesh is set to launch the trial of the over 800 main suspects accused in the 2009 paramilitary mutiny next week.

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2011, 00:20 AM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh is set to launch the
trial of the over 800 main suspects accused in the 2009
paramilitary mutiny next week with investigators submitting a
supplementary chargesheet accusing 26 more former BDR soldiers
in the carnage.

The civil court would begin the hearing to indict 850
soldiers of the then Bangladesh Rifles, now renamed as Border
Guards Bangladesh (BGB), on March 28 at a newly built court
complex in Old Dhaka, the chief prosecutor in the case said.

"The court is now set to launch the trial of the
carnage as the CID (Criminal Investigation Department of
police) today submitted the supplementary chargesheet
following a further investigation of the case," chief
prosecutor of the case Mosharraf Hossain Kajol said to a news agency.

Kajol said the 26 new suspects were found to be
involved directly in the killings of 74 people, including 57
army officers serving the frontier force.

A parallel trial process is underway against hundreds
in paramilitary courts under the BDR Act on separate charges
of rebellion.

A CID officer submitted the supplementary chargesheet,
saying their extended investigation found sufficient evidence
against the suspects.

The CID had earlier charged 801 BDR soldiers and 23
civilians including a former lawmaker of the main opposition
BNP and a local leader of the ruling Awami League for the
carnage in the paramilitary border force at its Pilkhana
headquarters on February 25-26, 2009.

On January 5 this year, the trial of the accused began
under the civil penal code at a civil court but it was halted
as the paramilitary special courts came across new suspects
while trying men on ordinary mutiny charges.

Over 250 police officers with initial assistance of
the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and British
Scotland Yard carried out the investigation during last two
years.

Bangladesh last month observed the second anniversary
of the carnage and the frontier force witnessed a massive
reconstruction campaign with its name, laws, uniform and
monogram changed as part of initiatives aimed at freeing it of
the stigma of the mutiny.

The rebellious soldiers at the time of the mutiny had
said that a sense of "deprivation" had prompted them to stage
the mutiny. They had demanded that the frontier force be freed
from "military domination".

Eight civilians, eight fellow BDR soldiers and an army
soldier apart from the 57 military officers were among those
killed in the carnage.

A government committee report later said that a
certain quarter had staged the mutiny but only a few BDR men
knew about the plot of killings. The admitted "without
hesitation that the real causes and objectives of the gruesome
incident could not be ascertained clearly and it requires
further investigations".

In line with a Supreme Court directive, the government
earlier decided that the BDR soldiers who were directly linked
to the killings, lootings and arson would be tried in a Speedy
Trial Tribunal under the civil penal code.

The trial of several thousand rebel soldiers is
already underway under a parallel process in 11 special BDR
courts on ordinary mutiny charges under the BDR Act, which
prescribes the maximum seven years of imprisonment for command
breach or indiscipline. Several hundred of them have already
been jailed under the process.

The newly enacted BGB Act prescribes death penalties
for such a mutiny and it also has provisions for qualified
soldiers to be given chance to join the army as commissioned
officers maintaining due recruitment procedures.

"The rebel soldiers mowed their officers down in cold
blood, using some 2,500 weapons which they had looted from the
BDR armory," CID`s chief investigator Abdul Kahhar Akand said
told newsmen after submitting the chargesheet.

Investigators earlier said that initially 40 to 50 BDR
men started the mutiny while most of the paramilitary soldiers
took up weapons "voluntarily or reluctantly" and carried out
the killings, destructions and lootings.

PTI