Bangladesh court allows trial of Sheikh Hasina

May 8th, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 8 (IANS) Bangladesh’s Supreme Court (SC) Thursday allowed trial of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, upholding the caretaker government’s right to invoke the stringent Emergency Power Rules (EPR). A seven-judge bench accepted the government’s plea against a high court verdict of Feb 6 that had nullified Hasina’s trial in an extortion case filed by businessman Azam J. Chowdhury.

Following the SC order, any case arising out of an offence committed before promulgation of the state of emergency could be tried under the EPR, clearing the way for case proceedings against high-profile corruption suspects - politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen - United News of Bangladesh news agency said.

Headed by Chief Justice M. Ruhul Amin, the apex court passed the inflexible order amid tight security in and around the court, allowing another government appeal against the High Court judgement relating to EPR, Star Online said Thursday.

Businessman Azam J. Chowdhury filed the case at a time when there has been a purge under way in the interim period against former ruling politicians.

Chowdhury has alleged that he was made to pay Taka thirty million ($500,000 approx.) to get a project passed. But he said he had not cited Hasina as a respondent. Her name was added to his petition by the government.

The Supreme Court verdict came a day after the Anti-Corruption Commission Wednesday pressed charges against Hasina, one of her cabinet colleagues, three former secretaries and four others for signing a contract with Canadian oil company Niko Resources Ltd.

This is the third charge-sheet against Hasina, also the Awami League president, after the declaration of emergency Jan 11, 2007.

Two more cases, out of the total five filed so far against Hasina during the military-controlled government, are still under investigation.

She is in jail since July, has been ailing and wants to go to the US for medical treatment.

However, the government is fighting off political pressure, including hunger strike by her supporters, and is yet to decide on whether to let her off on bail and facilitate her US visit.

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