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We’ll punish the killers: Hasina

Special tribunals will try paramilitary mutineers who killed at least 80 people,mostly army officers,in an uprising last week...

Written by Reuters | Dhaka | Published: March 2, 2009 1:43:31 am

Special tribunals will try paramilitary mutineers who killed at least 80 people,mostly army officers,in an uprising last week,government and military officials said on Sunday.

More than 70 people are still missing after the mutiny by members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border guards,which broke out on Wednesday in a dispute over pay and command,officials said.

The bodies of officers,and some members of their families,have been found in mass graves within the BDR compound in Dhaka and in sewers and canals. The mutiny spread to about a dozen towns across Bangladesh. Witnesses said about 1,000 BDR troops who had fled their headquarters after the two-day mutiny had returned and were having their identities checked outside the complex.

Police said they had identified up to 1,000 BDR members for investigation over the mutiny in a process that could lead to formal charges,including murder.

Government minister Syed Ashraful Islam said the decision to set up the tribunals was made at a cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday. No details about the tribunals were released.

An investigation led by Home Minister Shahara Khatun has been told to hand down its first findings within a week.

Government officials said Hasina had told cabinet ministers and army chief General Moeen U Ahmed during several hours of talks at army headquarters on Sunday that all those involved in the mutiny would be brought to justice.

Hasina has sought assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),in a telephone conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher,to investigate the mutiny,Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry said.

“We will punish the killers and their mentors after proper investigation and fair trial,” Hasina told Parliament on Sunday. “We will also seek assistance from Scotland Yard and cooperation from the UN to probe the mutiny.” Parliament unanimously condemned the uprising.

Former PM Begum Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist Party blamed the government for failing to rescue the besieged officers after the rebellion.

One of the survivors,Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Salam,told reporters not all BDR troops had taken part. Some even sheltered and saved their officers,he said.

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