Let civil court try Dhaka mutineers: Human Rights WatchMarch 20th, 2009 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS
Dhaka, March 20 (IANS) The Bangladesh government has been urged by international civil liberties group Human Rights Watch to hold trial by civil judicial system, and not by a military court, of the border guard troopers involved in last month’s mutiny. The group said a civil trial would ensure fairness and transparency.
The US-based Human Rights Watch also called for safeguarding basic rights of the soldiers during the trial as well as maintaining due process in the investigation into the charges against personnel of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) who killed nearly 80 people, including 55 Bangladesh Army officers, Feb 25-26.
“The BDR is not part of the defence ministry. It is under the home ministry. So the trial of that incident should not be held by a military court. It should go through the civil judicial system,” Brad Adams, executive director of the Asia division of the Human Rights Watch, told reporters here Thursday.
If the trial was held by special tribunals, it should safeguard all basic rights of the accused soldiers. Adams, however, suggested that a regular court should hold the trial.
“I don’t know why you are talking about special tribunals as you have the best people in the judiciary to do the job,” Adams was quoted as saying by New Age newspaper.
When asked whether a fair trial could be expected under a special tribunal, he said: “I’m concerned about fair trials under a military court. This is a complicated issue and needs time for investigation by independent lawyers.”
Meanwhile, the government has appointed army officers to replace those killed in the massacre when they were in a conference at the force’s headquarters at Pilkhana in the national capital.
It has appointed most of the 12 sector commanders, commanding officers of 46 battalions, directors of various branches and institutions and other officials.
The BDR mutineers killed all 12 sector commanders, three of four directors for training, communications and administration, and three commanding officers of four battalions in Dhaka sector.
A total of 55 army officials, including BDR Director General Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed, two brigadiers general, 16 colonels, 11 lieutenant colonels, 23 majors and two captains were killed during the mutiny.
The 67,000-strong BDR guards the country’s 4,000-km border with India and 300-km border with Myanmar.
Its new Director General Brig Gen Mainul Islam told The Daily Star: “Although it is a lengthy process, we have already made appointments to most of the posts that fell vacant following the massacre of BDR officials in the mutiny.”
Tags: army officers, asia division, bangladesh government, bangladesh rifles, battalions, bdr, border guard, civil court, civil liberties group, civil trial, commanding officers, defence ministry, due process, home ministry, independent lawyers, judicial system, judiciary, military court, mutiny, tribunals