Former Bangladesh premier loses appeals in graft charges

February 26th, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, Feb 26 (IANS) Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina Tuesday lost appeals before two courts that allowed the current government to prosecute her in different corruption cases. The appellate division of the Supreme Court accepted the government appeal against a high court judgement that had dismissed earlier this month the charge that Hasina had received Taka 29 million ($500,000 approx.) from a firm for clearing a project, The Star Online said.

The apex court’s six-member full bench, headed by Chief Justice M. Ruhul Amin, also stayed the high court verdict and stalled the proceedings of the case filed against businessman Azam J. Chowdhury.

The court’s dismissal was on technical grounds. The bench said it was illegal to invoke rules under the emergency powers in force since a national emergency was imposed in January last year.

A lower court here rejected Hasina’s bail petition in another corruption case in what has come to be called the barge-mount power plant scam, again charging her with receiving funds for clearing a project when she was the prime minister 1996-2001.

Judge Firoz Alam postponed the framing of charges in the case until March 3.

This was the third postponement of the hearing. This time it was because Hasina, who is ailing, could not be present in court.

Lodged in a special jail in the parliament complex, Hasina, 61, agreed to go for a medical check-up last week. Her supporters say she fears `foul play’ if treated locally, but will not go abroad for treatment fearing that she may not be allowed to return home.

Prolonged court battles have characterised Bangladesh’s political scene since a caretaker government, headed by Chief Justice Fakhruddin Ahmed, took office in January last year.

Besides Hasina, her political rival and former prime minister Khaleda Zia too has been in jail facing corruption charges.

Also in jail are both of Zia’s sons and nearly 200 high profile former ministers and lawmakers.

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