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152 sentenced to death over mutiny

A court in Bangladesh has sentenced 152 people to death for their actions in a 2009 border guard mutiny in which 74 people, including 57 military commanders, were killed.

Dhaka's Metropolitan Sessions Court Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman also sentenced 161 others to life in prison, 256 people received sentences between three and 10 years and 277 people were acquitted.

The mass trial involved 846 defendants and has been criticised by a human rights group which says it was not credible and that at least 47 suspects died in custody.

The border guards, known at the time of the mutiny as the Bangladesh Rifles, say they revolted over demands for salaries in line with their commanders in the army; assignments on UN peacekeeping missions, which come with generous perks; and better facilities.

The mutiny on February 25-26 2009 took place two months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took office. The influential military was unhappy over the response of the government, which did not allow troops to attack the border guards' headquarters in Dhaka where military commanders were killed.

Major General Aziz Ahmed, director general of the Bangladesh Border Guards, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"It was a huge massacre. We are glad that justice has been delivered," he said.

The defence says it plans to appeal.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has criticised the legal proceedings and called for a new trial. The group said at least 47 suspects have died in custody while the suspects have had limited access to lawyers.

"Trying hundreds of people en masse in one giant courtroom, where the accused have little or no access to lawyers is an affront to international legal standards," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

AP

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