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UK team probes Bangladesh mutiny

Mourners in Dhaka
At least 57 army officers were killed in the mutiny

Detectives from Britain's Scotland Yard have arrived in Bangladesh to help investigate a border guard mutiny that left at least 74 people dead.

The four-member police team was invited by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and will work with local and US detectives.

Sheikh Hasina has said last month's mutiny was part of a conspiracy to bring down her new government.

Hundreds of guardsmen have been arrested in connection with the mutiny but hundreds more are still sought.

On Wednesday the authorities said they had identified some of those who carried out the killings from among mutineers being held.

Wider conspiracy

According to the British High Commission in Dhaka, the UK team will provide expertise into how Scotland Yard structures and carries out complex investigations.

The mutineers will be tried by special tribunals... We also do not rule out putting them on court martial

Shafique Ahmed, law minister

High Commissioner Stephen Evans said that "Scotland Yard is at the cutting edge of criminal investigations" and that he was glad Britain could offer Bangladesh assistance at this time.

Two FBI detectives arrived last weekend.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka says the outside help was invited after the government began to suspect that the mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) was not a simple revolt over pay, as the mutineers themselves stated, but perhaps part of a wider conspiracy.

The BDR is chiefly responsible for guarding the country's borders and its officers are drawn from the regular army.

The mutiny began on 25 February at the BDR annual meeting at its headquarters in Dhaka but briefly spread to other barracks across the country.

The rebels surrendered after 33 hours but they killed at least 57 of their officers, including their commander. His wife and a number of other officers' wives were also killed.

Sheikh Hasina is sworn in as Bangladeshi president in Dhaka (06/01/2009)
Sheikh Hasina's relations with the military have been tested
Many of the bodies were found to have been mutilated. A handful of civilians died in the crossfire.

The prime minister won praise from many in Bangladesh for her handling of the situation and in averting a coup.

But our correspondent says that her government has undoubtedly been shaken by the mutiny and relations with the army remain low.

An audio recording of a subsequent meeting between her and about 2,000 army officers showed many were angry that troops were not sent in immediately.

She was often drowned out by jeers as she tried to speak.

Law minister Shafique Ahmed has said there may be special tribunals or courts martial for the mutineers.

Charges already drawn include conspiracy to kill officers and civilians, using weapons and explosives, creating panic, looting and trying to hide bodies.

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