MUTINY TRIAL310 more indicted; HRW urges 'fair trial'

A court in Dhaka dealing with serious crimes involving a bloody 2009-mutiny indicts another 310 people.
Published : 27 July 2011, 04:02 AM
Updated : 27 July 2011, 04:02 AM
Dhaka, July 27 ( — A court in Dhaka dealing with serious crimes involving a bloody 2009-mutiny has indicted another 310 people.
Wednesday's charges have been framed against them out of 847 accused for crimes such as murder, arson and looting during a two-day mayhem at then Bangladesh Rifles' headquarters at Peelkhana in Dhaka.
The makeshift judge court, set up in the playground adjoining Dhaka's Alia Madrasa and Dhaka Central Jail in Bakshi Bazar, framed the charges on Wednesday as the prosecution was preparing for the start of the final trial.
The court will sit on Aug 10 for resuming the next spell of indictment.
The effort by the government to try the mutiny suspects has, however, drawn attention of an international human rights watchdog that urges the authorities to meet "international fair trial standards".
New York-based Human Rights Watch in a July 26 statement said the Bangladesh government should immediately stop the mass trials of the alleged mutineers to ensure fair trials.
Saying that "those responsible for killing…should be held accountable", the influential watchdog's Asia Director Brad Adams said: "It is impossible to try hundreds of people at the same time and expect anything resembling a fair trial."
"The massacre shocked Bangladesh, but each of the accused should only be found guilty if the government provides specific evidence against them," he said.
"The BDR mutiny was ugly and brutal, but the current approach appears to be a witch hunt against a group rather than an attempt to identify the individuals responsible for specific crimes," Adams said.
"The government should rethink its approach to make sure the masterminds and perpetrators of serious offenses are brought to fair trial, but end the prosecutions of the rank-and-file who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time," he added.
Earlier, on July 20, the same court indicted 430 people including BNP leader Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, Awami League leader Torab Ali and former deputy assistant director of the force Touhid Hossain for similar charges.
At least 74 people, including 57 army officers, were killed in 2009 in the mutiny during an annual gathering of then Bangladesh Rifles, renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). Then chief of the force and his wife were among the victims whose bodies were dumped in shallow sewage or buried in mass graves.
The border guards say they revolted against an alleged discrimination over the force's salary and other perks enjoyed by the army officers who are usually deputed to the paramilitary force to command them.
The mutiny quickly spread across the country. Several courts of the border force are handling mutiny charges only.
The mutiny was an acid test for the new government of prime minister Sheikh Hasina as it took place barely two months after it came to power following two years of interim rule backed by the country's influential military.
But Hasina has pledged justice for the victims' families.