To the gallows
Aspecial court in Bangladesh has awarded death sentence to more than 150 border guards accused of murder and arson during a mutiny at their headquarters in 2009. A total of 850 people were accused of involvement in the rampage that broke out in Dhaka and spread to other towns. Seventy-four people were killed in the ensuing violence. 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 received jail terms of up to 10 years and fines.
The 2009 mutiny took place due to grievances over different facilities for the army and border guards. It shook the stability of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's newly elected government, which ended the revolt by negotiating a settlement. The then chief of the roughly 48,000-strong paramilitary force was among those killed in the 33-hour rampage. Others included 57 top- and middle-ranking army officers as well as several civilians. After the mutiny, the paramilitary force was renamed the Border Guard Bangladesh instead of the Bangladesh Rifles.
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 persons have already been found guilty of involvement in the mutiny, all in mass military trials. They have been jailed for up to seven years. Bangladesh's handling of the trials drew criticism from rights groups such as the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which said the use of torture and other abuse techniques to extract statements from persons while in custody violated standards for fair trials.