DHAKA: A Bangladeshi court convicted several hundred soldiers on Tuesday at the start of a mass verdict and sentencing over a 2009 military mutiny in which scores of officers were massacred.
The first 200 soldiers were found guilty and sentenced to jail terms of up to 14 years for their role in the mutiny in which 74 people were hacked to death, tortured and burnt alive before their bodies were dumped in sewers and shallow graves.
“The atrocities were so heinous that even the dead bodies were not given their rights,” Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman told the packed court in the capital Dhaka as he started to read out the verdicts.
Some 823 shackled soldiers were earlier crammed into the specially built courtroom, sitting silently on long rows of benches before sessions judge Akhtaruzzaman to hear the long-awaited verdict.
Families of 10 of the officers slain in the mutiny were also in court.
Prosecutors have sought the death penalty for many of the 823 soldiers who are charged with murder, torture, conspiracy and other offences over the 30-hour uprising that started at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters in Dhaka.
An official probe into the mutiny blamed years of pent-up anger over ignored pleas for pay rises and improved treatment of the ordinary troops, who resented their better-paid superiors.
Security was tight at the court, with hundreds of police and elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officers deployed outside as a precaution.
“We have deployed around 2,000 police and RAB officers in and around the court compound,” deputy police commissioner for Dhaka Harunur Rashid told Agence France-Presse.