Thoroughness, not neglect, behind lengthy Peelkhana massacre trials: home minister

A murder case has stretched beyond 15 years while the explosives case is still in the testimony phase

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 25 Feb 2024, 06:22 AM
Updated : 25 Feb 2024, 06:22 AM

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the prolonged trial process for the Peelkhana carnage is due to the emphasis on leaving no loose ends rather than negligence on anyone's part.

Bangladesh is observing the 15th anniversary of the massacre at the Peelkhana headquarters of Border Guard Bangladesh, formerly known as Bangladesh Rifles.

On Sunday, Khan and several other dignitaries paid tribute to the martyrs by laying wreaths on their graves at the Banani military graveyard.

"The trial process will conclude soon. We are making efforts to expedite it. There has been no negligence but completing the investigation properly is inherently a lengthy process," the minister said.

On Feb 25, 2009, the nation was shaken by a mutiny that started at the border guards' headquarters in Peelkhana. By the time it came to an end the next day, 74 people, including 57 army officers, were killed.

After the bloody uprising, the paramilitary force was revamped and its name was changed from Bangladesh Rifles to Border Guard Bangladesh.

In the wake of the brutality, trials were initiated in two different courts: a BGB court dealt with the mutiny charges, while the murder charges were tried in a conventional court.

Two criminal cases, one involving murder and the other under the Explosives Act, were also filed.

The murder trial, involving 850 accused, ended on Nov 5, 2013. The court handed down 152 death sentences, 160 life sentences, and various other terms to 256 people.

Additionally, 278 people were acquitted, making this the country's largest judicial case by the number of accused.

The High Court ruled on the death references and appeals on Nov 27, 2017. It confirmed the death sentences for 139 accused, sentenced 185 to life in prison, and handed down various sentences to another 228, while 283 were acquitted.

Before the High Court's verdict, 54 accused, including 15, had died. Afterwards, 226 accused filed appeals and petitions for leave to appeal against the verdict. Similarly, the state appealed against the acquittal of 83 accused and sought sentence revisions. These appeals are currently pending.

Meanwhile, the case under the Explosives Act is still ongoing in the trial court.

MARTYRS REMEMBERED

Dignitaries paid their respects to the martyrs in the Peelkhana carnage by placing wreaths at the Banani military graveyard at 9 am on Sunday. Afterwards, a minute's silence was observed.

Tributes were paid on behalf of President Md Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by their military secretaries, followed by the home minister.

Army chief Gen SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, Navy chief Admiral M Nazmul Hassan, and chief of Bangladesh Air Force chief Air Marshal Sheikh Abdul Hannan also paid their tributes.

Family members of the martyrs were also present at the graveyard.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of the martyrs, accompanied by a salute from the army personnel.

The ceremony ended with a special prayer for the martyrs.