A court in Bangladesh indicted 430 people including a former BNP lawmaker, Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, and a local leader of the ruling Awami League Wednesday for their involvement in February 2009 massacre at Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) headquarters in the capital.
Indictment of the rest of 420 accused, which puts the total number at 830, will take place over the next few days, said court sources.
Arson, lootings, dumping bodies, burying people in mass graves and theft are the other charges brought against the accused.
Of the 430, 409 are members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) while the rest include former BNP lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, Awami League leader Torab Ali and 17 civilians.
The court will frame charges against the remaining 420 people on July 27.
A total of 74 people including 57 army officers were killed at Pilkhana, the headquarters of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), now renamed BGB, in the mutiny on February 25-26, 2009.
The trial began at 9:50am Wednesday.
Judge Mohammad Zohurul Hoque of Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court began framing charges after rejecting discharge pleas of the accused.
The court, set up at Bakshi Bazar in the city, read out specific charges against the 430 and wanted to know from each of them how they would plea. All the accused pleaded not guilty.
The court started charge framing with the prime accused Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) Towhid who was leading a group of BDR jawans in a negotiation meeting at the prime minister’s residence on February 25, 2009, night but he “concealed information about the murder of army officers”.
Subedar Maj Gofran Mallik and Sepoy Selim Reza, who were among those to play major role in the carnage, were also indicted.
A brief deadlock developed as defence lawyers said the indictment is illegal since the accused were not earlier informed in writing about the charges brought against them.
Many accused alleged they had made confessional statements in the face of severe torture and not before any magistrate.
A total of 543 accused in this case made confessional statements.
“You shot and killed Col Mujibul Haque, Col Enayet and Maj Mokbul and you have already confessed that,” the court told Havilder Yusuf Ali and asked whether he would admit it now.
As the court insisted that records show he made confessional statement, Yusuf just denied it.
As he tried to explain, the court said, “You take that much opportunity the court allows at this stage.” As he continues, the court asked guards to take away the microphone from him.
The court said the accused, who have no defence counsel, would be provided with state defence to move for them.
Of the 850, 20 are still absconding while three are dead. Twenty three of the accused are civilians.
About the absconding accused, one of the special public prosecutors of the case, Sheikh Baharul Islam, said charges will be framed against those on the run in their absence.
Criminal Investigation Department submitted charge sheet against 824 people. Later, 26 other BGB jawans were made accused in a supplementary charge sheet.
Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu and Torab Ali were indicted for instigating and planning the killing. The other nineteen were charged with theft.
Pintu was also charged with abetting mutineers to flee Pilkhana, attending a meeting at the residence of an accused on February 24, 2009 and masterminding the massacre and organising procession in support of mutineers.
As the court asked Pintu how he would plea, he said many accused placed confessional statements against many ministers and lawmakers. “There is nothing against me, but I have been made an accused.”