HRW asks Bangladesh to halt border guards’ mutiny trial

July 5th, 2012 - 5:39 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 4 (IANS) International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) Wednesday asked Bangladesh to halt a mass trial of suspected mutineers of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles who had killed 74 people, including 57 army officers, in the 2009 mutiny.

The authorities should immediately halt the mass trial, and should instead establish an “independent, investigative and prosecutorial task force” that can investigate allegations of unlawful deaths, torture, and ill-treatment during the mutiny, the New York-based group said.

The HRW said the nearly 6,000 suspects in the mutiny have been subjected to abuse, torture and deaths in custody.

The 57-page report titled “The Fear Never Leaves Me: Torture, Custodial Deaths, and Unfair Trials After the 2009 Mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles” provides a detailed account of the mutiny and documents serious abuses in the aftermath.

“Those responsible for the horrific violence that left 74 dead should be brought to justice, but not with torture and unfair trials,” said HRW Asia director Brad Adams.

The HRW interviewed over 60 people for this report, including family members of the victims, prosecutors, defence lawyers and journalists.

The mutiny, believed to be triggered by long-standing grievances of the lower-ranked guards, broke out during the annual celebrations of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Feb 25, 2009, at its headquarters in Pilkhana Barracks in Dhaka.

The HRW said it was particularly concerned that the trials are being conducted en masse, with as many as 800 of the accused being tried at once.

About 4,000 people have already been found guilty by military tribunals.

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