161 given life imprisonment; revolt by Rifles in 2009 had left 74 dead
Delivering verdict in the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) munity case, a special court in Dhaka on Tuesday awarded death sentence to 152 persons and life imprisonment to 161 others for their involvement in the February 2009 carnage at Pilkhana, headquarters of the paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).
More than four and half years after the incident — which left 74 persons, including 57 army officers dead — the court handed another 262 people rigorous imprisonment ranging from three to 10 years. This includes BDR jawans.
It also slapped them with fines ranging from Tk 5,000 ($64 approximately) to Tk 50,000 ($640) for their involvement in looting, trespass, hiding bodies and unlawful assembly.
The court acquitted 271 men, all members of the former BDR, now renamed as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).
Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman of the Court of Third Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge in Dhaka announced the judgment on Tuesday.
The unprecedented mutiny of the paramilitary force took place on February 25-26, 2009, a few weeks after the Sheikh Hasina-led coalition swept to power through a thumping majority in the December 2008 general elections.
A total of 850 persons, including 23 civilians, were accused in the case; of them, 813 were jailed in the Dhaka Central Jail.
Twenty accused have remained fugitive while four died during the trial.
Deputy additional director (DAD) of BDR Touhid Ahmad, who had led the mutiny, has been sentenced to death. The court also ordered life imprisonment to former BNP MP Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu and Awami League leader Torab Ali.
Director General of paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Major General Aziz Ahmed has expressed satisfaction with the verdict. “The families got justice and the souls of those who were killed now will rest in peace,” he said in an immediate reaction.
Asked whether the 271 acquitted in the case would be given back their jobs, he said that another case — the explosives case — was pending against them, and the matter would be looked into if they are proved innocent of all the charges.