Peelkhana Court Starts Taking Testimony
Saturday, 04 September 2010

A special BDR court at Peelkhana headquarters has begun taking statements from the 667 accused soldiers of the 24 Rifles Battalion.

The Special Court-5, set up at the Darbar Hall of the BDR headquarters, began the proceedings at around 10am with Maj Gen Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, the director general of Bangladesh Rifles, heading the judges' panel.

Later, at around 11am, the court broke for half an hour.

All the accused were produced before the court.

BDR officials Lt Col AKM Golam Rabbani and Maj Syed Hasan Taposh assisted the court during the day's proceedings.

Two BDR majors and seven lawyers were present to assist the defendants. The BDR officials were selected as 'friends of the accused' to provide them legal advice. However, only 74 defendants had asked for assistance from the 'friends of the accused' while the rest declined.

The court was taking witnesses through three BDR personnel — Subedar Md Matiur Rahman, litigant of the case, and defendants Naik Motaleb and Sepoy Fazlul Haque.

The court on June 23 wrapped up hearing charges against all the 667 accused and the members of the judges' panel had read out the charges.

Among the 667 accused, the court had exempted Naik Jainal Abedin of charges as he had died during the course of the case proceedings. Soldiers from other battalions, who were attached to the 24 Rifles during the BDR Week in February 2009, have also been listed among the accused.

The court, on June 26, framed charges against the 667 accused.

Nearly 60 army officers, deputed to the border force, were killed on February 25-26 last year at Peelkhana, while the rebellion spread to BDR outposts around the country.

The government formed six special courts, including two in Dhaka, to prosecute some 3,500 border guards accused in some 40 cases around the country.

According to the BDR law, the maximum penalty for rebellion is seven years imprisonment.

Trials of other crimes like murder, allegedly committed by the BDR soldiers, will be held in civil courts.

The Criminal Investigation Department of the police is investigating the crimes.

A special court in Rangamati kicked off the trial of accused soldiers in November last year.

A number of courts at Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Feni, Satkhira and Rangamati have already handed down verdicts.


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