Friday, June 21, 2024

BDR carnage trial set to start next week

CID completes probe, ready to file chargesheet
The trial of the February 25-26 massacre culprits of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) is set to be started next week with police saying they were now ready to submit the chargesheet ahead of the first anniversary of the carnage that killed 57 army officers serving the paramilitary force, reports BSS.
“We have completed the investigation and are expecting to file the chargesheet by next seven days naming over 600 BDR soldiers for trial under Speedy Trial Tribunal for their direct involvement in the massacre,” a senior official of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) told BSS.
Of the total chargesheeted BDR personnel, about 30 jawans have been absconding, he said.
The official who preferred anonymity said the massacre suspects were identified from among some 2,100 detained paramilitary border guards who were present at the BDR”s Pilkhana Headquarters in Dhaka to be charged under the Penal Code for killing, weapon looting, stealing and torturing women and children during the two days of carnage.
A total of 523 BDR soldiers including former BDR personnel already gave statements before the magistrate confessing their involvement in the massacre under the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) he said.
The official said nearly 8,000 people including politicians, surviving BDR officers and officials of the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), police and fire service and family members of the assassinated officers were enlisted as prosecution witnesses.
During he protracted investigation process the CID recorded statements of Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun, State Minister for Local Government Jahangir Kabir Nanok, parliamentary whip Mirza Azom, ruling alliance lawmakers Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Barrister Fazle Noor Taposh, Mahbub Ara Gini, Meher Afroz Chumki, MM Reza and Waresat Hossain Belal who could also appear as prosecution witnesses during the trial.
“But the statements of the surviving military officers who were inside the Pilkhana during the carnage and family members of the deceased army officers would likely to be the vital witnesses in the case,” he said.
The official said CID prepared an inventory of 3,170 evidences including blood stained clothes of the deceased military officials, household goods, looted mobile sets, grenades, ornaments and seized arms and ammunition to be submitted along with the chargesheet.
CID officials earlier said they so far detained a total of 2,159 people including 35 civilians including former lawmaker of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu for their suspected involvement in the mutiny and subsequent massacre in which a total of 73 people were killed.
Apart from the 57 army officers, the roughed mutineers killed seven civilians, eight fellow BDR soldiers and an army soldier as the two-day rebellion shattered the country just two months after the installation of the new government after the landmark December 29, 2008.
Asked what would be the fate of the remaining over 1,300 BDR soldiers, the CID official said most of them would face trial for mutiny charges under the BDR Act despite being spared from the massacre charges.
“We, however, found some 100 BDR soldiers to be innocent who are likely to be released after the filing of the chargesheet,” he said.
The development came as the government decided to observe the ”Pilkhana Killing Day” on February 25 with due honour while the trial of another some 2,000 other BDR soldiers were underway as they were detained in 29 frontier districts for staging mutiny, breaking in arsenals and looting weapons as the rebellion broke out in Pilkhana Headquarters in Dhaka.
“These (six) courts are trying the (ordinary) BDR mutiny alone,” the statement said in an indirect reference to the earlier government decision to try the February 25-26 massacre culprits in tough Speedy Trial Tribunal and the ordinary mutineers in the BDR courts under relatively lenient BDR Act.
The government earlier decided to try the suspected massacre culprits under the fast track Speedy Trial Tribunal and others who extended support to the mutiny but did not take part in the killings under the BDR Act, which prescribed the highest seven years of imprisonment for defying command chain or major service irregularities.
The Speedy Trial Tribunal will try the suspects under civil Penal Code which prescribed capital punishment for the offenses like murder completing the trial in 135 days while the BDR Act suggested the maximum seven years of imprisonment for breaching discipline or command chain.
The government decision followed a Supreme Court opinion against trying the rebellious soldiers under Army Act in response to a presidential reference seeking the opinion of the apex court.
The rebellious soldiers at that time claimed a sense of “deprivation” prompted them to stage the mutiny while the demanded the frontier force should be freed from “military domination”.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently gave her consent for reforms in mutiny infested BDR, renaming it as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) with a new combat uniform.

Courtesy of BSS via The News Today

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