Dhaka: A Bangladesh court jailed 182 border guards today for their role in a bloody 2009 military mutiny, bringing the total number of soldiers imprisoned for the unrest to more than 3,000.
Scores of senior army officers were killed during an uprising that began when soldiers at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters in Dhaka went on a killing spree, later dumping the bodies in sewers and shallow graves.
The special military court in Dhaka read out the sentences against 187 border guards, handing 182 of them prison terms of up to seven years, state prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain said.
“Among the convicted guards, 20 were sentenced to maximum seven years in prison. Five were found not guilty,” he told AFP.
The mutiny spread from Dhaka to BDR posts across the country, with thousands of guards taking up arms against their commanding officers in the worst military rebellion in Bangladesh’s 40-year history.
Dozens of special courts -- run by the military using a mix of martial and civilian law -- were set up to prosecute mutineers, with the first verdict convicting 29 soldiers being handed down in April 2010.
The courts do not allow defendants to have lawyers, and there is no right of appeal. Seven years in jail is the maximum penalty they can impose.
The BDR has since changed its name to the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) in an effort to distance itself from the mutiny.
Soldiers accused of more serious offences -- including murder -- are being tried separately in Bangladesh’s civilian courts, and could face the death penalty if convicted.