The Bangladesh High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence of 139 soldiers and the life imprisonment of 146 convicted soldiers of the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) over the killing of 74 people, including 57 Army officers, during the 2009 mutiny.

The carnage took place between February 25 and 26 that year.

The judgement comes after the High Court started delivering the verdict on Sunday on the death sentence of the 152 convicted soldiers — comprising jawans and non-commissioned officers of the BDR — four years after a lower court in Dhaka handed down capital punishment to them. The lower court also awarded life term to 158 BDR soldiers.

The BDR jawans had been accused of masterminding the mutiny plots, torturing and killing their officers, looting their belongings or keeping their family members captive during the rebellion.

They had also killed eight civilians, eight fellow BDR soldiers who apparently were opposed to the revolt and an army soldier apart from the 57 military officers.

“One thirty-nine will have to walk to gallows and 146 will be imprisoned for life,” Attorney-General Mahbubey Alam told a media briefing, quoting the long verdict delivered by a three-judge High Court bench.

The Bench read out the entire judgement on the death reference and appeal hearing of the trial of what is said to Bangladesh’s biggest ever criminal case.

“It appears from discussions and reviews before and after the BDR mutiny that it was a conspiracy by a quarter with vested interest to hamper the stability of the state and socio-economic safety,” said the Bench in its observation part of the judgement. It observed that it was “an attempt to destroy a trained and skilled professional force through conspiracy.”

 

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