Bangladeshi former premier to face special court on graft charges
A Dhaka court on Thursday ordered Bangladeshi former prime minister Khaleda Zia to face a special court to expedite a hearing on graft charges, reported dpa.
A senior judge's court issued the order as Khaleda - the chief of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which led the last elected government - and 15 cabinet ministers and officials from her government are charged with corruption in the awarding of a contract for the Barapukuria coal-mine operation to a Chinese company, a counsel of the former premier said.
After launching a massive anti-crime drive in 2007, Bangladesh's military-backed, appointed interim government set up special courts to try high-profile politicians accused of corruption.
A good number of senior leaders of Khaleda's party as well as former prime minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League were sentenced to jail terms by the court, which generally wraps up proceedings in a maximum of 90 days.
These politicians might be disqualified in contesting the December general election unless their convictions are stayed by higher courts.
Several thousand supporters crowded onto the streets as Khaleda, who was released on bail in four other corruption cases, arrived at the court for Thursday's hearing amid tight security. They chanted slogans asking the government to lift all "fabricated" cases.
She was released from jail on September 11, a year after being detained on graft charges.
Meanwhile, another High Court bench asked the government for a two-week extension before Hasina, a former prime minister who ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, is to appear in court.
Hasina, who is now in Canada, was paroled on medical grounds on June 11, nearly a year after she was detained by the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed.