Around 55 face second trial in Satkhira tomorrow
The special court-1 there will try some 55 soldiers from 7 Rifle Battalion at Nildumur under Khulna sector, said sources in the border force. “All six courts will be composed of three members each and headed by Director General Major General M Mainul Islam. As per the BDR law, they will try around seven thousand border guards on charges of mutiny at 50 rifles establishments," said an official involved in making arrangements for the trials. Of the places where mutiny broke out, 10 are at Pilkhana headquarters in Dhaka and the remaining 40 are in 27 other districts, he added. The 27 districts are Satkhira, Jessore, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Khulna, Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Joypurhat, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh, Rangpur, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Netrakona, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Narail, Feni, Khagrachhari, Rangamati, Bandarban and Cox's Bazar.
Two of the six courts will be devoted to trial of the ones charged with mutiny at the Pilkhana headquarters. Dhaka sector headquarters, 24, 36, 13 and 44 Rifle Battalion, headquarters battalion, BDR hospital, Rifle Security Unit (RSU), Signal Sector and Rifles Sports Board are the 10 points at Pilkhana that saw 74 persons including 57 army officers killed in a 33-hour carnage. Around eight thousand troops were at Pilkhana during the bloodbath on February 25-26. But all of them would not have to go on trial, said a BDR source.
Some three thousand of them might have to stand trial on charges of mutiny. The rest would face departmental actions that could at the maximum cost them their jobs, added the source. However, for those to be tried on mutiny charges, the conviction could carry up to seven years in jail, fine and dismissal from service.
Like at Pilkhana headquarters, mutiny took place in more than one place in some districts. For example, revolt spread among three of the five battalions in Rangamati sector. In Satkhira, jawans mutinied in 7 Rifle Battalion at Nildumur and 41 Rifle Battalion under Khulna sector.
Initially, the courts will sit for two days. On the opening day, charges will be pressed and arrest warrants issued, and on the second day, the accused will be produced before the court. After the second day's proceedings, the court will be adjourned for about a month as the BDR act prescribes giving the accused at least 27 days to consult lawyers and prepare for defence.
On the second day of the trial at Rangamati, the court adjourned its proceedings till December 27 so the nine accused and their lawyers could make preparations. After initiating the prosecution in Satkhira, the BDR court might sit in Feni, said sources.