Dhaka apex court stays trial in 17 high-profile cases

March 20th, 2008 - 1:27 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, March 20(IANS) Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has stayed for a month the trials of high profile politicians and businessmen in 17 cases, the first such instance since Emergency Power Rules were invoked in January last year. A full bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice M. Ruhul Amin Wednesday stayed the cases, many of which have moved between upper and lower courts.

The court will resume hearing the cases April 23, New Age newspaper said Thursday.

Among those who get the brief reprieve are former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, two sons, Tarique and Arafat, another former prime minister Khaleda Zia, several former ministers and lawmakers of the Zia government 2001-06.

Now the fate of the 17 cases will depend on the result of the government’s appeal against the high court verdict that quashed the Tk 29.9 million ($500,000) extortion case against Sheikh Hasina under the Emergency Powers Rules and declared illegal the placement of the case under the emergency rules.

The cases were filed against the high-profile suspects on extortion, amassing illegal wealth and corruption charges. All the cases were placed under the Emergency Powers Rules.

All the accused in the cases filed writ petitions. They asked the government to explain the legality of the placement of the cases under the emergency rules. The High Court, in separate orders, also stayed the proceedings in the cases.

The Appellate Division, however, had earlier stayed the high court orders clearing the way for the continuation of the trials in the cases.

Detained since June 16, an ailing Hasina has taken the initiative to challenge the cases filed by invoking the Emergency Power Rules.

The high court had Feb 6, after hearing a writ petition filed by Hasina, delivered a verdict quashing the Tk 29.9 million case in which she was accused of receiving money from Azam j. Chowdhury, a businessman, to clear his project.

Hasina denied the charge as politically motivated.

Chowdhury too has said that he never named Hasina as an accused in his complaint.

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