86 charged in first Peelkhana mutiny trial in city

A special court accepted charges against 86 soldiers of Bangladesh Rifles in the first mutiny trial that began at the Darbar Hall of the border guards’ headquarters at Peelkhana yesterday, exactly a day before the first anniversary of the bloody carnage of February 25-26 of last year in which 75 people including 57 army officers were killed.
The three-member special court 5, headed by the BDR director general, Major General Mainul Islam, began its proceedings a few minutes after midday, at the very site of the bloody revolt on February 25 last year, amid tight security in and around the Peelkhana compound. Two other senior officers – Lieutenant Colonel Golam Rabbani and Major Sayeed Hasan Taposh – were on the judges’ panel.
Deputy Attorney General Mohammad Ullah Kishlu was present at the court as the nominated representative of the Attorney General to assist the court. Four others – Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, Sheikh Baharul Islam, Manjur Alam Manju and Mohammad Shahnaj Tipu – were present as special prosecutors.
Plaintiff of the case, acting Subedar Major Shah Alam of Dhaka Sector Headquarters read out the charges against the 86 border guards for violating the orders of BDR officers, not resisting other mutineers from taking part in the mutiny and not informing the higher authorities about the mutiny.
The plaintiff said 40 of the accused aimed guns at their officers on the first day of the two-day mutiny while the other accused did not try to stop them.
A total of 19 out of 86 accused are already in jail in connection with the Peelkhana carnage case, 65 others were shown arrested in the case for their alleged involvement in the mutiny while the rest two suspects are fugitives.  Sepoy Nasiruddin out of 65 accused shown arrested yesterday has been undergoing treatment at the BDR Hospital and he was taken into custody after the plaintiff lodged the complaint with the court.
The court took cognisance of the charges and adjourned the proceedings up to 10:00am today (Wednesday).
The court issued warrants for arrest of the two absconders and sent the 65 others, who had been working at the headquarters since the February 25-26 mutiny, to jail.
The court also asked the law enforcers to show the 19 other BDR men, already in jail in the Peelkhana killing case, as arrested in the mutiny case too.
The court asked the prosecutor, Major Motiur Rahman of the BDR Dhaka Sector to make necessary arrangements for producing all the accused before the court today (Wednesday). It also asked the prosecutor to supply copy of allegations to each of the accused.
The Peelkhana mutineers killed 75 people, 57 of them army officers deputed to the border force, on February 25-26, 2009. Rebellion spread to other BDR units across the country.
A total of 10 cases will be lodged in connection with the Peelkhana mutiny – one in each unit of the Dhaka Sector Battalion, BDR sources said. Over 2,000 BDR suspects will face trial for their alleged involvement in the mutiny, a high official of the BDR said.
According to the BDR Act, the accused can receive legal assistance from an officer of the force or a lawyer for his defence.
BDR sources said that they had conducted an internal inquiry into the Peelkhana carnage and found that over 2000 border guards were involved in the last year’s mutiny.
The home ministry issued a letter last November to the CID and prison authorities to allow the BDR to question the border guards about the mutiny in Peelkhana, BDR sources said.
After receiving home ministry’s approval, the paramilitary force questioned the suspects about their involvement in the Peelkhana mutiny, the sources confirmed.
On November 15 2009, six ‘special courts’ were set up – two in Dhaka and four outside the capital, to try the BDR mutineers under the Bangladesh Rifles Order of 1972.
The special courts will try the accused on charge of mutiny and rebellion, BDR officials have said earlier.
Trials for other serious crimes, including killings, rape and arson, will be held separately in civilian court.
The first of the mutiny trials began at Rangamati on November 24 last year against a number of border guards accused of taking up arms in rebellion and expressing solidarity with the Peelkhana mutineers.
Trials are also being held in Feni, Satkhira and Thakurgaon.
The Special Court 4 in Rangamati is due to hand down the first verdict in connection with the BDR mutiny on May 2.
The maximum penalty for mutiny or rebellion is seven years in jail. The killings at Peelkhana will carry the maximum penalty under civil law.

Courtesy of The Independent

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