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HRW criticizes treatment of accused Bangladesh mutineers

Bangladeshi authorities should order a retrial of military personnel involved in the 2009 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny due to alleged violations of international fair trial standards, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] in a statement [press release] released Tuesday. According to the advocacy group, the suspects have been subjected to torture, including beatings and electrical shocks, and at least 47 of them have died in custody. HRW claims that, although the prosecution has stated they will not use any evidence obtained by torture, defense counsel alleges that such statements have been included in the evidence presented against their clients. All 847 suspects are being tried together and have limited access to their lawyers. "While it is crucial that those responsible for the horrifying violence are brought to justice," the statement reads, "Human Rights Watch found that the trials in military and civilian courts did not meet international fair trial standards."

HRW criticized [JURIST report] Bangladesh's conviction of other suspects in the BDR mutiny in mass trials in June 2012. In July 2011 HRW urged the Bangladesh government to ensure the BDR suspects were given fair trials following the June sentencing [JURIST reports] of more than 650 soldiers. Only nine of the individuals accused were acquitted. The mutiny occurred in February 2009 with the first arrests of military personnel [JURIST report] taking place the following March. More than 1,000 were arrested for the mutiny which was motivated by payroll disputes, living conditions, and the promotion of officers from the regular Bangladesh army instead of internally within the BDR.

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