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Bangladesh court upholds 139 death sentences in 2009 mutiny case

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the Bangladesh High Court [official website] on Monday upheld 139 death sentences and 146 life imprisonments relating to the 2009 mutiny [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] that resulted in the death of 74 people including 54 senior government or military officials.

Most of the defendants were soldiers and members of the paramilitary boarder security force Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), which has been subsequently renamed Border Guard Bangladesh [official website].

In 2013 a lower court sentenced [JURIST report] 152 defendants to death as part of a mass trial involving a total 847 suspects. Human rights organizations expressed concern [JURIST article] over the treatment of those charged in connection with the 2009 mutiny after reports of torture and lack of adequate access to legal counsel emerged.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested in connection to 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. The convictions can be appealed once more to the Supreme Court, which by law has the final say in all capital punishment cases

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