Bangladesh postpones verdict on 846 soldiers over 2009 mutiny
Dhaka: The long-awaited verdict in Bangladesh`s biggest ever criminal case in which about 850 soldiers are accused of killing 74 people during a bloody 2009 mutiny has been postponed till November 5.
"The date for delivering the verdict in the BDR mutiny carnage case has been shifted from today to November 5," Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman of Third Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge`s Court here said.
He said that some extra days were required for delivering the verdict as the judgement could not be prepared within the stipulated time.
The fate of the soldiers belonging to the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) hinges on the verdict as they face death penalty for killing 74 people. Among the dead was BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed and 56 other army officers.
"It is possibly one of the biggest criminal trial in the world in terms of the number of accused, witnesses testified and the people killed...It is unique they got normal trial under the ordinary law of the country," Anisul Huq, chief prosecutor of the case, told PTI.
"I hope the justice will be properly meted out when the judgement will be delivered," he said.
Out of the over 1300 witnesses that were listed, 655 prosecution and 27 defence witnesses testified before the court which earlier on October 20 wrapped up the trial of the 846 rebel soldiers and several civilians who, if found guilty, could be handed down death penalty for the carnage in 2009.
Then sessions Judge Johurul Haque began the trial proceedings on Jan 5, 2011, against the ex-soldiers of BDR, which subsequently was renamed as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) under a massive reconstruction campaign to overcome the mutiny stigma.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during a programme at her official Ganobhaban residence, said such a big case had never been filed ever in the history for which the judge might have required some extra time to write the verdict as "the gravity of the offence was also very serious".
"(I hope) the verdict will be delivered soon," she said.
The rebel soldiers staged the mutiny at the BDR`s Pilkhana headquarter at the heart of the capital on February 25, 2009, but the mutiny quickly spread at sector headquarters and regional units across the country.
All the people killed during the mutiny that lasted for two days died at Pilkhana alone.
The rebellion saw the paramilitary soldiers turn their guns on their commanders, hacking and torturing them to death, hiding their bodies in sewers, hurriedly digging graves and captivating and humiliating their frightened family members in the barracks.
The rebels went on a killing spree during the 33-hour revolt at Pilkhana and also murdered the then BDR chief Ahmed and the border guards Dhaka sector chief Colonel Mojibul Haque. The rebels later dumped the bodies of the army officers bodies in sewers and shallow graves.
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