"The special (paramilitary) court today handed down rigorous imprisonment ranging between four months to seven years to 665 jawans of 44 Rifles Battalion," state prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Zakir Hossain told newsmen. The erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) is now called Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after an exercise to revamp the force after the Feb 25-26 carnage at the frontier force's Pilkhana headquarters in the capital in 2009.
While the trial of soldiers, who were accused of minor offences like looting, was being held in paramilitary courts, a parallel trial is underway in a civil court that is trying the 'core culprits' accused of slaughtering 74 people, including 57 army officers. Hossain said the court headed by BGB's Colonel Ehia Azam Khan also simultaneously fined each of the convicts Taka 100 and acquitted eight soldiers as allegations brought against them were not proved under the BDR Act.
Journalists who witnessed the procedure at the makeshift court inside the Pilkhana said the convicts were whisked away in police vans to be brought initially to the high security Dhaka Central Jail. BGB officials said the six special paramilitary courts have so far completed trial of rebel soldiers in 56 out of 57 units of the frontier force, handing down imprisonment of different terms to more than 5,000 out of suspected 6,054 border guards.