A special court in Bangladesh on Thursday sentenced 46 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) soldiers to prison terms up to seven years for staging a revolt at their unit in the southeastern Khagrachhari hills in February 2009 when border guards in Dhaka had killed 57 army officers in a bloody massacre.
The paramilitary court jailed the 46 Bangladesh Rifles soldiers to different terms up to seven years.
A BDR spokesman said the special court headed by Chittagong Sector Commander Lieutenant Colonel Zahedur Rahman handed down the punishment to the border guards serving 29 Rifles Battalion at Matiranga sub-district of the rugged region.
The court, however, found one of the suspects innocent and acquitted him of the charges. The trial of several thousand rebel soldiers is underway in 11 special BDR courts on ordinary mutiny charges under the BDR Act, which prescribe a maximum imprisonment of seven years for breaching command or indiscipline.
Several hundred soldiers have already been jailed under the process. A BDR official familiar with the process said the trial of rebels in 10 of out of 52 units have so far been completed.
He said 12 of the units were based in Pilkhana at the time of the rebellion while the rest were outside Dhaka where they took up weapons and control of their units.
In line with a Supreme Court directive, the government had earlier decided that the BDR soldiers who were directly linked to the killings, lootings and arson during the February 25-26 rebellion at the Pilkhana headquarters in Dhaka would be tried in a Speedy Trial Tribunal under the civil penal code.
A Dhaka court last week marked the beginning of the trial of the main accused as it took into cognizance charges against 824 suspected "core culprits" of the 2009 carnage when 74 people including 57 army officers serving the paramilitary border force were killed.
Metropolitan Sessions Judge Mohammad Zohurul Haque took into cognizance the charges as 800 of the 824 core culprits appeared before the court at the heavily guarded newly built makeshift court complex in Dhaka.
Prosecution lawyers said the trial of the main massacre suspects were set to be referred later to a special court under the tough Speedy Trial Tribunal in line with a government decision. While 21 absconding accused are being tried in absentia, two others have died.