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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 17:46 GMT
Bangladesh soldiers jailed
A Bangladeshi military court has found four soldiers guilty of torture and extortion.

Bangladeshi soldiers
The army was brought in to fight crime

The four men, along with eight police officers, were reported to have carried out the offences during the recent anti-crime drive, Operation Clean Heart.

The BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says this is the first major disciplinary action against soldiers who violated human rights and took part in criminal activities during the three-month operation which began in October last year.

An army statement said a three-member military court delivered the judgement after a week-long trial.

The soldiers were also charged with detaining persons illegally.

Prison

The statement from the Bangladeshi defence forces said that Captain Atiqur Rahman was given a seven-year prison term.

Soldiers Mizanur Rahman and Afzalul Alam were given four-year and three-year jail terms respectively.

The fourth soldier was sentenced to 89 days in a military prison, but he will not lose his job.

All four members of the Bangladesh Army were charged with breaking military discipline, collecting money forcibly, lying and detaining persons illegally.

The accused policemen will be prosecuted in a civil court.

EU concern

Last month, a delegation from the European Parliament met officials in Dhaka to discuss human rights abuses during the anti-crime operation.

The visit followed an EU resolution on Bangladesh which expressed concern about the deaths of more than 40 people during the three-month operation.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International alleged that the offences were committed while people were either in custody or during interrogation by the authorities.

The government said the figure was much less and that most of them died of natural causes.


SEE ALSO:
Bangladesh winds down crime fight
09 Jan 03 |  South Asia
Bangladesh police in fresh raids
10 Dec 02 |  South Asia
Bangladesh crime fight
01 Nov 02 |  South Asia


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