Bangladesh to try mutineers in special courtMarch 1st, 2009 - 7:58 am ICT by IANS
Dhaka, March 1 (DPA) The government of Bangladesh announced Saturday that it intends to prosecute members of a paramilitary border force that mutinied this week by special tribunal, as more graves of the mutineers’ victims were discovered.
“The law ministry was asked to enact laws for the speedy trial of the killers and looters,” Syed Ashraful Islam, the Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives minister, told a press briefing after an emergency meeting of the council of ministers and senior leaders of the ruling Awami League party.
The law will be approved in parliament, he added.
The meeting, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, also observed that outsiders might have been involved in the deadly killings.
A mass grave containing ten bodies was discovered at the Dhaka headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles Saturday, the second such find in as many days. The death toll now stands at at least 72.
“Evidence in government hands indicate that outsiders are involved in the carnage,” the minister said adding that it was a “well orchestrated plan to kill the valiant sons of the country.”
The government will recast the previously formed probe body, drawing neutral and impartial persons of the society, to conduct a complete investigation into the carnage that left many army officers and their relatives killed.
The government termed the slain officers as “martyred” and disclosed a plan for compensation package to the bereaved families.
Visiting the Rifles’ headquarters earlier in the morning, the home minister Sahara Khatun said, “The investigation has begun formally from today.”
“We will submit our reports within seven days,” said the minister, who heads the high-powered investigation committee and visited the headquarters along with the members of the body.
They also reviewed the post and pre-mutiny situation at the initial meeting of the investigation body formed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed Friday.
The minister asked the authorities concerned to ensure that no evidence was disturbed ahead of the investigation.
As most soldiers of the Bangladesh Rifles force were missing since the Wednesday’s mayhem, the home ministry ordered the BDR troopers to return to their posts immediately.
“All Bangladesh Rifles personnel absent from their posts in the wake of the quelled mutiny have been asked to join their posts within the next 24 hours,” said the order, warning that legal steps would be taken against those who failed to turn up.
“If it is not possible to return to their work stations within this time, they can report to their nearby Bangladesh Rifles sector, battalion headquarter or police station,” said the order, signed by and office of the ministry.
Saturday’s discovery of bodies followed that of Friday, when rescue workers retrieved 38 bodies from a first mass grave inside the compound.
Announcing the discovery of the second grave, an officer of the fire service and civil defence department said the bodies included that of the wife of slain BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed.
Also discovered were arms, ammunition and grenades left by rebel soldiers scattered at different locations inside the 2.6-sq-km compound.
Bangladesh has been observing a three-day mourning period starting Friday as a mark of respect to slain army officers.
“The general amnesty announced by the prime minister does not mean that those who took part in killing, mutiny, arson and other heinous activities will be pardoned,” Lieutenant-General Muhammad Abdul Mubin said.
Mubin, principal staff officer of the army, read out a written statement issued after a meeting between Hasina and army chief Moeen U. Ahmed late Friday.
“Those who committed such barbaric and brutal acts cannot be pardoned and will not be pardoned,” Mubin said.
“In order to ensure a speedy trial, the government will form a special tribunal and surely give exemplary punishment,” the general added.
The rebellion ended late Thursday with the surrender of the mutineers, 35 hours after rebel soldiers opened fire on their officers at an annual meeting to allow soldiers to air grievances.
Several hundred enlisted men, enraged over a pay dispute and alleged repression and corruption by the commanders of the 67,000- strong force, took the officers hostage.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement Saturday condemned the violence. A statement released by Ban’s spokesperson in New York said: “He condemns such brutal acts of violence and extends his deepest sympathy to the victims, to their families and to the people and Government of Bangladesh.”