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657 mutineers jailed

media Bangladesh Rifles mutineers in Dacca, 26 February 2009. (Photo : Reuters)

A Bangladesh military court jailed more than 650 border guards on Monday for their role in a 2009 mutiny, bringing the total number of soldiers imprisoned for the unrest to nearly 3,000.

State prosecutor Shahnewaz Tipu told journalists that a total of 667 guards of the 24th battalion were charged. He said one died during the trial and nine were acquitted, and  among the rest, who were all jailed, 108 guards were given the highest prison term of seven years.

At least 57 senior army officers were killed in the 33-hour uprising in 2009, which 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 mutiny quickly spread to BDR posts across the country, with thousands of guards taking up weapons against their commanding officers in the worst military rebellion in Bangladesh's history.

Dozens of special courts, run by the military using a mix of martial and civil law, were set up to prosecute mutineers.

The special courts do not allow defendants to have lawyers and there is no right of appeal.

Monday's hearing brought the total number of incarcerated mutineers to nearly 3000, according to a BGB spokesman.

Soldiers accused of more serious offences such as murder, looting and arson are being tried separately in Bangladesh's civilian courts, and can face the death penalty if convicted.


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