December 21, 2013
Bangladesh court sentences 152 to death for 2009 mutiny
A special court in Bangladesh sentenced to death more than 150 people among hundreds of border guards accused of murder and arson during a mutiny at their headquarters in 2009.
Some 850 people had been accused of involvement in the bloody rampage that broke out in the capital, Dhaka, and quickly spread to a dozen other towns, killing 74 people.
Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol told reporters the court sentenced 152 people to death.
"The court announced the death sentence to them for the heinous killing of the country's brave sons," he said.
Amid tight security, the court also sentenced 160 mutineers to life terms, including a former lawmaker of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and acquitted 171 soldiers. The rest got jail terms of up to 10 years and fines.
Grievances over different facilities for army and border guards led to the mutiny, Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman said in comments accompanying the verdict.
The long-awaited verdict came nearly 5 years after the event. Four of the accused died in jail during the trial, with 20 more on the run and 13 free on bail while 813 remain in jail.
Bangladesh's handling of the trials has drawn criticism from rights groups such as New York-based Human Rights Watch, which has said the use of torture and other abuse to extract statements while in custody violated standards for fair trials.
The government has previously denied such accusations.
The trial began in August 2011, with 801 force members and 23 civilians among those charged in 2010 after an investigation lasting more than a year.
About 4,000 people have already been found guilty of involvement in the mutiny, all in mass military trials. They have been jailed for up to seven years.