[JURIST] A special tribunal in Bangladesh on Sunday convicted 57 members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) [official website] on charges relating to their involvement in last year's border guard mutiny [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. BDR Special Court-3 in the southeast district of Feni sentenced [Daily Star report] those convicted to jail terms ranging from four months to seven years, and fined each BDT $100 (USD $1.45) for taking up arms and blocking a road during the 33-hour mutiny. Only five were acquitted. Civilian courts will hear more serious charges [BBC report] related to the mutiny, such as murder, arson, and rape, and may impose the death penalty on those found guilty. The sentences comprise the third [AP report] of dozens of cases against the several thousand alleged mutiny participants who are being tried throughout Bangladesh, and come two weeks after the sentencing of 29 BDR members [JURIST report] on similar charges.
The six Special Courts were established [Priyo report] shortly after the Bangladeshi Supreme Court [official website] recommended against [JURIST report] military court-martial trials for BDR members who took part in the mutiny. Dozens of BDR officers, including the force's commander, were killed and their bodies left in sewers and shallow graves during the mutiny, which was sparked by grievances over pay and conditions. President Zillur Rahman [official profile] asked for the court's opinion to determine whether the accused should be tried under the Army Act of 1952 [text] or whether they should face civilian trials. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [BBC profile] initially offered the mutineers amnesty as part of a deal negotiated to end the uprising, but the agreement was rescinded when the conduct of the mutineers was fully revealed.