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Human Rights Watch asks Bangladesh to stop mass trial
Publication Date : 25-10-2012
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday said the Bangladesh government should halt the ongoing mass trials of Bangladesh's border security personnel in connection with a 2009 mutiny as those “violate basic fair trial standards”.
On October 22, a military court convicted 723 of the 735 accused in the Sadar Battallion of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), which was renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) later, after a mass trial, which did not meet fair trial standards, the New York-based rights watchdog claimed.
“The atrocities that took place during the mutiny need to be investigated and prosecuted, but the authorities have allowed expediency to trump justice,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a report on its website.
On February 25-26, 2009, some members of the BDR staged a mutiny against their commanding officers at its Pilkhana headquarters. They killed 74, including 57 army officers deputed to the BDR.
The authorities responded with mass arrests afterwards. Members of each battalion were tried together.
“Each accused has the right to a fair trial, meaning there must be specific evidence against him, a lawyer with sufficient time and access to represent him, and an impartial court. None of these basic principles have been met.” said Adams.
“It is likely that many of those convicted had nothing to do with the mutiny, causing them and their families massive and unnecessary hardship.”
“The prosecution must really think hard about the implications of mass convictions for those facing the death penalty when the trial process has been so deeply flawed,” said Adams.
“Mass unfair trials like these make a mockery of Bangladesh's judicial process, and are simply an expedient means for political gain, not for justice.”