Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A 2009 mutiny of disgruntled border guards seeking higher wages in Bangladesh resulted in 74 deaths; now far more than that are set to die

After a mass civilian trial that began in 2011 and involved 846 defendants, 152 border guards have been sentenced to execution. Some 161 others are getting life in prison, while 256 have been sentenced to three to 10 years. Another 277 were acquitted, though many of them were convicted in military tribunals and are unlikely to go free. Human Rights Watch criticized the proceedings, noting that 47 suspects died in custody. "Trying hundreds of people en masse in one giant courtroom, where the accused have little or no access to lawyers, is an affront to international legal standards." The defense plans an appeal. The mutiny lasted 30 hours and saw 57 officers killed, with bodies tossed in sewers. "The atrocities were so heinous that even the dead bodies were not given their rights," said the judge as he read the verdicts, a process that took hours. But he did point out that the soldiers should have indeed been awarded better pay. In earlier military tribunals, some 4,000 people were found guilty and received sentences lasting up to seven years.

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