Bangladesh sentences 9 border guards for mutiny
A special court convicted and sentenced nine more Bangladeshi border guards to jail Sunday for participating in a widespread mutiny last year that killed 74 people, mostly commanding officers.
The convictions were the fifth series of verdicts issued by six special courts around the country trying mutiny charges against more than 2,000 suspects. Crimes such as murder and arson committed in the rebellion are still being investigated and will be tried separately.
The guards said they revolted over alleged discrimination and demands for parity in pay and other perks enjoyed by the army officers who command them. Killed in the rebellion were 57 military commanders, including the head of the paramilitary border security agency, the Bangladesh Rifles.
The mutiny started at the agency's headquarters in the capital, Dhaka, during an annual soldiers' gathering in late February 2009, and spread around the country when the mutineers opened fire, blocked roads and drove commanding officers from offices and homes. Maj. Gen. Mainul Islam, director general of the agency, pronounced the verdicts Sunday as head of a three-judge panel in Rangamati district, 135 miles (220 kilometers) southeast of Dhaka. One man sentenced to the maximum term of seven years was found guilty of leading others who mutinied in the area, Islam said. Eight others were jailed for two to six years.
The government has arrested 2,136 members of the force in connection with the mutiny. Other verdicts will follow in the coming months.
The mutiny occurred just two months after Bangladesh's powerful military, which has backed 21 coups in the country's 38-year history, relinquished power to a civilian government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The military was angry with how Hasina handled the mutiny, which was ended through negotiations, including offers of amnesty. But when dozens of bodies _ including those of commanding officers _ were discovered dumped into shallow graves or sewers, the government rescinded the amnesty offer for mutiny leaders.
Hasina has said she will ensure justice for the families of the mutiny victims.