Rights Group: Bangladesh Should Ensure Fair Trial for Mutiny Suspects

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Human Rights Watch is calling on Bangladesh to stop mass trials for the hundreds of border guards accused in the 2009 mutiny that left 74 people dead.

The New York-based rights group says that those responsible for the deadly mutiny should be held accountable, but in military and civilian courts that meet international fair trial standards.

On Wednesday, a court in Dhaka indicted 310 guards on charges such as arson and murder. More than 800 are accused and the court is set to resume next month to indict the remaining guards.

And last month, a special court set up in Bangladesh's capital sentenced 657 border guards to up to seven years for their role in the mutiny.

Human Rights Watch's Asia director, Brad Adams, said Wednesday that it is “impossible” to try hundreds of people at the same time and expect “anything resembling a fair trial.” He added that the massacre shocked Bangladesh, but each of the accused should only be found guilty if the government provides specific evidence against them.

In February of 2009, soldiers who were members of the Bangladesh Rifles took over their main barracks in Dhaka, stealing weapons and killing dozens of people, including senior army officers. The mutineers say they revolted over long-standing pay and work condition demands.

More than 2,000 border guards are accused of crimes associated with the mutiny, including murder, looting and arson.

Human Rights Watch said the detainees' lack of access to legal counsel remains a serious concern. The rights group says many guards were detained without charge for several months.