152 soldiers sentenced to death for Bangladesh Rifles mutiny


Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) soldiers react as they leave the court premises following verdicts against them in Dhaka on November 5, 2013.


Munir Uz Zaman

A Bangladesh court sentenced 152 soldiers to death Tuesday in what is being deemed the world's largest criminal trial.

Another 157 soldiers were given life sentences, while more than 200 others were sentenced up to 14 years in prison.

The conviction and sentencing were handed down for the soldiers' participation in a 2009 mutiny, which saw 74 people, including more than 50 military officers, killed.

Investigators charged 850 soldiers with murder, rape, arson, looting weapons and conspiracy, though only 846 were judged.

The brutal mutiny, also known as the Bangladesh Rifles revolt, saw military commanders hacked, tortured and burned alive, their bodies dumped in sewers.

"The atrocities were so heinous that even the dead bodies were not given their rights," said Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman in court in the capital Dhaka before reading the verdicts.

The two-day mutiny took place on February 25 and 26 in 2009, after border guards' demands for a pay raise and other changes were rejected.

Families of the victims were detained by the guards. The mutiny spread to a number of towns before negotiations with the government ended the killing.

The trial included 654 prosecution witnesses and 27 defense witnesses over the course of the proceedings which began in January 2011.

Human Rights Watch criticized the mass trial saying that justice cannot be served in one large courtroom with little access to lawyers or other legal resources.