Bangladesh convicts thousands of soldiers for 2009 mutiny
DHAKA, Bangladesh — The trials concluded in Bangladesh of troops who mutinied three-and-a-half years ago, with the last sentences bringing the total of those jailed to 5,926 soldiers, officials said Sunday.
A special court in Dhaka handed down 723 jail terms on Saturday to the last batch of soldiers to be tried for their part in the uprising that started at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles border guards in 2009.
The convicts received sentences of two to seven years for insubordination, looting weapons, seizing control of the base, and spreading the uprising to other stations of the paramilitary force.
A three-member panel of judges headed by Colonel Yahia Azam pronounced the concluding judgment at Dhaka headquarters of Border Guard Bangladesh, as the force was renamed after the mutiny.
The February 25-26, 2009 rebellion left 74 people dead including 57 army officers, and many others injured at the force's headquarters and other bases across Bangladesh.
The trials were held by 11 special courts under the Bangladesh Rifles Order of 1972, which stipulates a maximum seven-year jail term and fines for mutiny.
Bangladesh has changed the law since the uprising to allow the death penalty for mutiny in the future.
The trials, which stared in October 2009, tried 6,046 soldiers in 57 mutiny cases, and handed prison terms to 5,926 of them, including 870 who received the maximum seven years.
Many are also on trial in civilian courts for murder, looting and other offences. The mutineers allegedly killed their commanders, including the chief of the Bangladesh Rifles, before discarding their bodies in ditches and sewers around the base.
The military has launched a recruitment drive to fill the thousands of vacancies left by the convictions, Lt. Col. Qazi Anuriddha said.