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Bangladesh jails more than 650 soldiers in connection to 2009 mutiny

A Bangladesh military court on Monday sentenced 657 border guards for their roles in a February 2009 mutiny [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The verdict was unprecedented in the number of people convicted [AFP report] at once and brings the total number of soldiers jailed for the mutiny to over 3,000. The court originally charged 667 guards from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) [official website] with nine being acquitted and one dying during the trial. One hundred eight guards received the maximum seven-year sentence the court could issue. Bangladesh has conducted a series of military and civil trials for the thousands of citizens and soldiers involved in the mutiny, which left 74 dead. The military court is part of dozens of courts set up to try members of the 2009 mutiny. It does not allow defendants to have lawyers and there is no right to appeal.

Last January, the civilian trial of 800 soldiers charged [JURIST report] with crimes stemming from their roles in the 2009 mutiny began in the capital city of Dhaka. The trial involves some of the most serious charges with those found guilty facing the death penalty. The trial is expected to last over a year and to include the testimonies of more than 1,000 individuals. In August 2010, a special Bangladeshi military court sentenced [JURIST report] 14 members of the BDR for their roles in the mutiny. The tribunal, led by BDR head Maj. Gen. Mainul Islam, fined each of the men Tk 100 and sentenced [BDNews24 report] them to prison terms ranging from four months to six years, one year short of the maximum possible sentence for rebellion under Bangladeshi law. About 3,500 other soldiers will face lesser charges in military courts.

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