DHAKA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - A special court in Bangladesh on Tuesday sentenced to death more than 150 people, from among hundreds of mutineers accused of murder and arson at the headquarters of the country’s border guards in 2009.
Some 850 people had been accused of involvement in the bloody rampage that broke out in the capital, Dhaka, and quickly spread to a dozen other towns, killing 74 people.
Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol told Reuters the court sentenced 152 people to death.
“The court announced the death sentence to them for the heinous killing of the country’s brave sons,” he said.
The incident shook the stability of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s newly elected government, which ended the revolt by negotiating a settlement.
The then chief of the paramilitary force was among those killed in the 33-hour rampage. Others included 57 top- and middle-ranking army officers deputed to the force, as well as several civilians.
After the mutiny, the paramilitary force was renamed the Border Guard Bangladesh instead of the Bangladesh Rifles.
The long-awaited verdict came nearly 5 years after the event. Four of the accused have died in jail during the trial while 20 more are on the run and 13 have been released on bail. The remaining 813 accused are in jail.
Tuesday’s verdict had been deferred from a date of October 30 originally set by Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman after the completion of arguments by both prosecution and defence.
The trial began in August 2011, with charges pressed against the 850 people in 2010 after an investigation that ran more than a year.
There were 801 members of the force among the 850 charged, and 23 civilians, including a former opposition lawmaker.
About 4,000 people have already been found guilty of involvement in the mutiny, all in mass military trials. They have been jailed for up to seven years. (Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)