Bangladesh jails 329 border guards for 2009 mutiny
level sportsmen, were on Sunday given jail terms upto seven years by a special military court for their role in a 2009 mutiny that had killed 74 people.
"A three-member Special Court-11 led by Brigadier General Mohammad Nasir Uddin Ahmad handed down the verdict against the soldiers belonging to the Rifle Sports Board and Directorates unit," a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) spokesman told a news agency.
He said the soldiers were jailed for different terms ranging from four months to seven years for their role during the country's worst ever mutiny on February 25-26 in the headquarters of the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), now reamed as BGB under a massive reconstruction campaign.
The convicts were tried under the BDR Act which prescribes the highest seven years of imprisonment and of the 329 convicts while the court acquitted seven out of 336 soldiers of mutiny charges as allegations against them were not proved, the spokesman said.
Hundreds of border guards were already jailed by 11 paramilitary courts under the lenient BDR Act on charges of violating the command chain or order defiance while the "core culprits" of the carnage are being tried in civil Sessions Judge's court for their suspected direct link to the killings, lootings and arsons during the mutiny.
"Trials of 55 mutiny cases out of 57 have already been completed in paramilitary courts (under BDR Act)... We expect the trial of the ordinary or petty mutiny charges" under the BDR Act to be completed in next several months, the spokesman said.
The prosecution lawyers at the sessions' judge's court said they expected the trial of the 847 detained accused or core culprits of the 2009 carnage to be completed by the year end under the penal code which suggests the highest death penalty for the convicts.
"It is clearly understood that the government is very active to complete the trial and so far we have not faced any obstacle from the defence side to disrupt the trial process ... We expect it to be completed by the year end," chief prosecution lawyer of the case advocate Anisul Haque told a news agency.
The authorities earlier scrapped the annual month-long vacation of the Dhaka Sessions Judge's Court for undisrupted trial of some 847 core suspects.
The rebel soldiers staged the mutiny at Pilkhana at the heart of the capital city on February 25, 2009 but the mutiny quickly spread at sector headquarters and regional units of the frontier force across the country but the casualties took place only at the Pilkhana.
Bangladesh last year renamed the mutiny-infested force as BGB under a massive reconstruction campaign, also changing its laws, uniform, flag and monogram as part of desperate efforts to free the force from the rebellion stigma.
The new law or BGB Act suggested death penalty for mutiny in the force while the previous BDR Act had prescribed only seven years of imprisonment as the highest punishment for ordinary disobedience or breach of command as it apparently could not foresaw possibilities of such rebellion in the paramilitary force.
The provision of lenient punishment under the previous BDR Act required the trial of the "core culprits" of the 2009 mutiny under the country's civil Penal Code for "murder charges'.
A government committee report said "a certain quarter" staged the mutiny using a sense of deprivation of the ordinary BDR soldiers but only a few BDR men knew about killing plot.
The rebel soldiers staged the rebellion at Pilkhana at the heart of the capital city on February 25, 2009 but the mutiny quickly spread at sector headquarters and regional units of the frontier force across the country but the casualties took place only at the Pilkhana.