Bangladesh court upholds death sentence of 139 BDR soldiers

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Dhaka, Nov 27 (PTI): The Bangladesh High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence of 139 and the life imprisonment of 146 convicted soldiers of the then Bangladesh Rifles over the killing of 74 people, including 57 Army officers, during the 2009 mutiny.

The judgment comes after the court started delivering the verdict on Sunday in the death sentence of the total 152 convicted soldiers at the border guards’ headquarters here. “One thirty nine will have to walk to gallows and 146 will be imprisoned for life,” attorney general Mahbubey Alam told a media briefing, quoting the long verdict delivered by a three-judge High Court bench.

The judgment comes four years after a lower court in Dhaka handed down capital punishment to 152 and life term to 158 soldiers of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). A bench yesterday started reading out the entire judgment on the death reference and appeal hearing of the trial of what is said to Bangladesh’s biggest ever criminal case. A Dhaka court had awarded death penalty to 152 jawans and non-commissioned officers of the BDR, which was renamed as the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), in November 2013.

The court had sentenced 158 to life imprisonment, 251 to imprisonments up to 10 years for the February 25-26, 2009 carnage, when 74 people, including 57 military officers serving in the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), were killed. “It appears from discussions and reviews before and after the BDR mutiny that it was a conspiracy by a quarter with vested interest to hamper the stability of the state and socio-economic safety,” said the bench in its observation part of the judgment. The bench observed that it was “an attempt to destroy a trained and skilled professional force through conspiracy”.

The BDR jawans had been accused of masterminding the mutiny plots, torturing and killing their officers, looting their belongings or keeping their family members captive during the rebellion. They had also killed eight civilians, eight fellow BDR soldiers who apparently were opposed to the revolt and an army soldier apart from the 57 military officers. Legal experts had called it the country’s biggest ever criminal trial in which some 800 ex-paramilitary soldiers had been accused of the murder of 74 people, including 57 military officers during the revolt in February 2009.

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