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657 BGB men jailed on mutiny charge

Staff Correspondent: A special court on Monday sentenced 657 soldiers of a unit of the Border Guard Bangladesh and its attached battalions to imprisonment, ranging from four months to seven years, on charge of mutiny in 25-26 February, 2009 in Dhaka.

The Special Court-7, chaired by BGB’s director general Major General Rafiqul Islam, also fined each of the convicts, including eight freedom-fighters, Tk 100 each. It acquitted nine accused of the charge.

Of the soldiers, who were

in the dock in shackles without BGB uniform, 108 were given the highest punishment — rigorous imprisonment for seven years under the Bangladesh Rifles Order 1972.

Nine border guards were jailed for 6 years, eight for 5 years, three for 4 years and 6 months, twenty-six for four years, fifty-seven for 3 years and 6 months, fifty-two for 3 years, eighteen for 2 years and 6 months, eighty-two for 2 years, fifty-five for 1 year and 6 months, two for 1 year and 3 months, and sixty-seven for 1 year.

Besides, 34 were jailed for nine months, 47 for six months and 89 for four months.

The court started delivering the judgment at about 10:15am and finished at 1:19pm.

This was the fourth verdict in a case filed on mutiny charges in Dhaka after the bloody February 2009 rebellion in the headquarters of the then Bangladesh Rifles.

The trials of seven

more cases against 3,119 soldiers of seven units of the Dhaka sector and the BGB headquarters are going on.

The special court-7 acquitted nine out of 666 accused of mutiny: Havildar Abdul Khalek, Nayek Tapan Kumar Devnath, Lance Nayek Abul Kalam Azad, Sepoys Sheikh Md Shamim Reza, Mohammad Reazul Islam, Shaheen Farazi, Rabiul Islam, Emran Miah and Habibur Rahman.

The court asked the police to unlock their handcuffs soon after they were acquitted.

Of the acquitted, only three pleaded guilty and four were not present at Pilkhana during the mutiny, the case’s prosecutor, Major Khan Mohammad Alauddin, told reporters at a press conference.

Some of the family members of the convicted waiting outside the BGB gate told New Age that they had not got justice from the court.

‘Now my father is a criminal! We are ruined by the verdict,’ said the daughter of a convict.

The court’s chair said that all the accused,

except 31 who had pleaded guilty, had claimed to be innocent but were convicted on being found guilty after examining the depositions of witnesses and documents and carrying out cross-examinations.

He said that the court had taken into consideration four major matters, including Articles 45 and 52 of the Constitution, during the trial.

He said that they

had also considered the behaviour of the accused during the trial and also their previous service records.

So far 2,854 out of 6,052 soldiers under trial have been sentenced by special courts across the country on charge of involvement in the mutiny.

Seventy-two soldiers have so far been acquitted of the charges by the specials courts.

The proceedings against the members of the paramilitary force began on 31 March, 2010.

The charges brought against the border guards were violation of the orders of the BDR officers, dumping the bodies of slain army officers into mass graves and ditches, not preventing other soldiers from taking part in the mutiny and not informing the higher authorities of the rebellion in which 75 people, including 57 army officers, were killed.

The case’s prosecutor, Major Khan Mohammad Alauddin, said that the acquitted soldiers would be reinstated in the force.

Fifty-eight prosecution witnesses — most of them BGB members and army officers — made depositions against the convicts during the trial, and 86 defence witnesses — family members and relatives — made depositions in favour of the accused.

The prosecutor filed cases against 668 members of the unit, of whom Nayek Zaynal Abedin Bhuyan died on 14 March, 2010 and Havildar Motiur Rahman on 15 May in jail.

Fifty-seven cases, including 11 in Dhaka, were filed after the mutiny that involved all but

nine BGB units across the country.

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