Mutiny was Staged to 'Highlight Demands'
Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Bangladesh Rifles soldiers staged the bloody mutiny early last year to force the authorities' hand on their demands for higher pay and better position, the chief investigator says.

"The incidents happened over their so-called demands. No other reasons were found in the investigation," Criminal Investigation Department's senior special superintendent Abdul Kahar Akhand, who investigated two criminal cases filed over the incident, said on Monday.

At least 73 people, including 56 army officers deputed to the paramilitary border guards, were killed at BDR headquarters at Peelkhana during the Feb 25-26 mutiny. The force's director general Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed and his wife were among the killed.

The revolt spread to several battalions outside Dhaka. A total 3,500 border guards are facing trial in the 40 mutiny cases countrywide.

Akhand told a press conference before pressing charges in the killing case: "The incident was well-planned. They planned to hold the officers hostage. They also decided to open fire, only if need be."

CID's senior superintendent of police Fazlul Kabir submitted the charge-sheet against 824 people -- 785 soldiers and 39 civilians -- to the court of chief metropolitan magistrate AKM Enamul Haque at around 4pm on Monday.

Twenty-one of the civilians are absconding.

This is the first time in Bangladesh so many people have been indicted in a case.

Former opposition BNP MP Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu and ruling Awami League leader Torab Ali were also made accused as the mastermind of the mutiny.

To a question, the CID officer said they investigated the incident as a murder case, not a political issue.

He said all the officers were killed on the first day of the rebellion in the paramilitary force's headquarters in Peelkhana, Dhaka.

Names of 1,504 soldiers, out of 2,307 arrested in connection with the killing case, have been excluded from charge-sheet as charge against them has not been proved, he said.

However, they will be tried for mutiny, Akhand added.

A case was filed with Lalbagh Police Station on Feb 28 last year for murder, loot and arson. It was subsequently transferred to the New Market Police Station.

The CID submitted the charge-sheet one year and four months after it began investigation into the case.

As many as 285 people, including ministers, members of parliament, chief of the three services, army officers, inspector general of police and journalists, have been made witnesses in the case.

"The prime minister has not been made a witness, her statement has been recorded," Akhand said.

The charges against the suspects were stated in 132 pages of the around-5,000-page charge-sheet. The other pages contain list of evidence, statements of witnesses and others, maps of the places of incident, pictures, and statement of the investigator.

The investigator said evidences of the case include the helicopter that was fired at during the mutiny, when around 2,500 arms were used.

The government earlier sought the Supreme Court's opinion on the BDR trial process as opinions varied widely on whether the suspected mutineers should be tried under BDR, army or civil laws.

The court appointed 10 senior lawyers as amici curiae, literally friends of the court, to give advice and they opined for holding the trial of BDR killing case under the civil law.

On November 15 last year, the government formed six special courts, including two in Dhaka, to try the suspected mutineers.

Special tribunals in Rangamati, Satkhira, Feni, Panchagarh and Thakurgaon have already given verdicts.

Akhand said charges in connection with the case filed under explosives substance act would be pressed soon.


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