Bangladesh premier cleared of extortion charge

May 17th, 2009 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, May 17 (DPA) A Bangladeshi court Sunday cleared Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed of an extortion charge brought against her by a businessman two years ago, court officials said.
A judge of the special court, set up during the previous military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed to provide speedy trials for graft cases, mostly against politicians, ordered the charges against Hasina withdrawn.

The move is in line with an appeal submitted by a public prosecutor.

Abdullah Abu, the prosecutor, filed the petition seeking withdrawal of the extortion case filed by businessman Ajzm J. Chowdhury in 2007.

The case alleged that Hasina extorted money from Chowdhury during her 1996-2001 regime in exchange for awarding a contract for a power plant near Dhaka.

After the political changeover in early 2009, the businessman said that filing the charges had resulted from a misunderstanding and that he would not press the case in court.

The public prosecutor also sought to submit a petition seeking to quash 11 other graft charges against the premier, saying the charges brought against Hasina had been politically motivated.

Hasina was among the top politicians who were detained by the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed, who assumed office in early 2007 in the wake of political turmoil.

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