Dhaka, Nov 16 – The Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) has set up six special courts – two in Dhaka and four outside the capital – to try hundreds of mutineers who killed 74 people in February.
BDR chief director general, Brig. Mohammed Mainul Islam, will chair the three-member courts being constituted under the Bangladesh Rifles Order 1972, New Age newspaper reported.
The two other members on each of the six special courts will be a lieutenant colonel and a major, who are from the army and deputed to the border guards. Representatives of the attorney general will assist the special courts.
The six special courts will only try the BDR troopers accused of mutiny they staged Feb 25-26, posing the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government that had taken office four weeks earlier.
The mutinous troopers had demanded higher wages and better working conditions. There was also resentment against the better-paid army officers who man all the key posts.
Fifty-seven of the 74 people killed were army officers, including then BDR chief, Major General Shakil Ahmed.
The BDR chief Sunday told New Age: ‘The procedure for the trial of the BDR mutiny has started with the institution of the special courts.’
A move to try the mutineers under the military law was decried by human rights bodies.
The accused soldiers will need to argue in their own defence in the courts and they may take assistance of any officer of the paramilitary force or any lawyer.
Rights groups Odhikar and Ain o Salish Kendra, however, said the accused BDR troopers would be denied justice unless they were allowed to defend themselves by lawyers of their choice.
At least 39 BDR troopers have died unnatural death in custody.