The High Court proceedings in delivering the verdict over the killings during the 2009 mutiny at the border guards’ headquarters in Dhaka have rolled into Monday, Agencies report.
A three-member bench led by Justice Md Shawkat Hossain started announcing the verdict just before 11am Sunday and adjourned in the afternoon.
Justice Hossain has said the court will reconvene on Monday, when the sentencing is expected. The larger bench with Justice Md Abu Zafor Siddique and Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder as the two other members was formed in 2015 to hear the case, largest in Bangladesh’s history in terms of the number of convicts.
At the beginning of Sunday’s proceedings for the verdict at 10:54am, Justice Siddique spoke on the trial process and the Peelkhana massacre before reading out his observations.
He continued until the court recessed at 1pm, when he said his observations were more than 1,000 pages. When the counsels asked how long it may take, the presiding judge, Justice Hossain, said: “We can’t say that. What we can say is that it’s a unanimous verdict.”
The court proceedings resumed an hour later.
At 4pm, Justice Hossain said the court was adjourned for the day to reconvene at 10:30am on Monday, when Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder will read out a summary of his observation.
“We hope to start the sentencing before noon tomorrow.” The mutiny that continued for two days eight years ago, a month after a new government took office, sent shock waves across Bangladesh and to the rest of the world.
Seventy-four people, including 57 army officers, were brutally murdered by the mutineers on Feb 25-26 in 2009.
In November 2013, a special court of an additional metropolitan sessions judge awarded the death penalty to 152 soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles or BDR for the massacre.
The court sentenced 161 others to life in prison and 256 to three to 10 years in jail. It acquitted 277. Never before had so many accused, 850 in total, been tried in a single case in the history of Bangladesh.
Four of the accused died during the trial while BNP leader Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu died after conviction. After the mutiny, some suggested deeper conspiracies behind the rebellion, but police investigators concluded that the BDR personnel’s grievances led them to revolt.
The trial court, in its verdict, observed that the mutiny was orchestrated with the motive to destroy the military security system and might have been engineered to weaken the economy.
It said involving the border guards in market activities like ‘Operation Dal Bhat’, introduced by caretaker government, had been ‘unwise’.
The court believed there were intelligence ‘gaps’ that held back critical information of a brewing mutiny.