[JURIST] A special tribunal in Bangladesh on Wednesday convicted 29 members of the paramilitary group Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) [official website] on charges relating to their involvement in last year's border guard mutiny [BBC Backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The military-run court in Panchagarh district sentenced those convicted to jail terms ranging from four months to seven years. The sentences are the first of dozens of cases against approximately 3,500 alleged mutiny participants [WP report] who are being tried throughout Bangladesh. Civilian courts are hearing more serious charges [AFP report] related to the mutiny, such as murder, arson, and rape, and may impose the death penalty on those found guilty.
In September, Bangladesh's Supreme Court [official website] recommended against [JURIST report] military court-martial trials for BDR members who took part in the mutiny, which killed dozens of BDR officers, including the forces commander. President Zillur Rahman [official profile] asked for the court's opinion to determine whether the accused should be tried under the Army Act of 1952 [text] or whether they should face civilian trials. The court took into account the advice of 10 top lawyers and legal experts, seven of whom opposed [People's Daily report] the use of military trials.