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Court accepts graft charges against Bangladesh's ex-PM

Monday, September 7, 2009 5:46 AM

DHAKA, Sep. 6, 2009 (Xinhua News Agency) -- A court in Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka Monday accepted a charge sheet against the country's former prime minister Khaleda Zia and five others including her elder son Tarique Rahman for embezzling money of an orphanage fund.

According to the case statement, the then prime minister Khaleda, her eldest son Tarique Rahman and four others embezzled over 21 million taka (about 300,000 U.S. dollars) by establishing Zia Orphanage Trust in 1991 that exists only on paper.

Khaleda, chairperson of the main opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and now the Opposition Leader in parliament, appeared before the court on Monday amid foolproof security at 1:20 p.m. local time while several hundreds of her party activists also gathered at the court premises.

The court of Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge A N M Bashirullah set Oct. 25 to frame charges against six defendants including Khaleda who was Bangladesh's prime minister for twice in 1991-1996 and 2001-2006.

The court also issued arrest warrants against defendants Mominur Rahman, nephew of Khaleda, and former principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddiqui as they did not appear before the court.

A total of 36 people have been listed as state witnesses in the case, investigation officer Harunnur-Rashid informed the court. The hearing of the case was deferred twice on Aug. 12 and 30 since Khaleda did not appear in the Dhaka court on security reasons.

The court on Aug. 30 set the Monday's hearing date and directed the government to ensure security for Khaleda to facilitate her court appearance.

This is the first move by the anti-graft body against high profile graft suspects since the present Awami League-led grand alliance assumed power in January this year, leading English- language newspaper The Daily Star reported last month.

On August 5, Deputy Assistant Director of the country's Anti- Corruption Commission Harunur Rashid, also the investigation officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet.

The country's Supreme Court in the first week of August, however, upheld the previous High Court bail orders secured by both Khaleda and her elder son Rahman in the case filed with a police station in Dhaka in July last year.

(Source: iStockAnalyst )


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