More charged over Bangladesh mutiny

Hundreds, mostly border guards, charged over last year's massacre in capital Dhaka.

      Prosecutors say the border guards rebelled over
    low wages and poor treatment [AFP]

    Each of the 824 suspects, including 801 soldiers from the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles division (BDR) and 23 civilians including a former opposition politician, have been charged with murder and could face the death penalty.

    Police investigators have interviewed 9,500 border guards and civilians and have detained 2,307 people suspected of involvement.

    In parallel prosecutions, about 3,500 soldiers who joined the mutiny as it spread to an estimated 40 border posts across the country, are being tried in special military courts on lesser charges.

    Military courts

    At least 200 border guards have already been convicted in special courts with sentences ranging from one month to seven years in prison.

    The accused soldiers do not have lawyers and the sentences cannot be appealed.   

    In depth

     Focus: Mutiny reveals chaos
     Gallery: The Rifles' revolt
     Country profile: Bangladesh

    The mutiny was premeditated, Abdul Kahhar Akhand, a leading police investigator, said.

    Rebelling soldiers were allegedly angry about their superiors' refusal to increase their pay and improve working conditions.

    "They mowed their officers down in cold blood, using semi-automatic weapons and rifles they'd looted from the barracks," Akhand, the police investigator, said of  mutineers who took control of BDR headquarters on February 25, 2009.

    A number of mutilated bodies were discovered in shallow graves after perpetrators of the mutiny fled in civilian clothes.

    After stealing an estimated 2,500 weapons, rebel soldiers broke into the annual meeting of BDR officers, lined them up and shot them at point-blank range.

    "One officer was hanged from a tree and then shot," Kazal, the prosecutor, said. 

    "A senior officer was taken to the roof of a four-storey building and thrown to the ground. The dead bodies of a few officers were set on fire."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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