Bangladesh Jamaat chief to be charged for the first time

May 9th, 2008 - 1:38 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 9 (IANS) Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is to press charges for the first time against the amir (chief) of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party, for alleged corruption during his 2001-06 stint as the industry minister. Motiur Rahman Nizami is to be charged along with former prime minister Khaleda Zia, her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko and 22 others, including six ministers in the Zia government, for illegally awarding the job of handling containers at two container depots in Dhaka and Chittagong to Global Agro Trade Company (Gatco).

Zia and Koko have been accused of influencing the tender process while the other officials are being indicted for helping Gatco win the tender, ignoring the three-member tender evaluation committee’s report in which it declared Gatco unfit for the work.

Although the charge sheet was readied last November, the ACC had not submitted it to the court for trial. This led the Awami League, the country’s largest party, to accuse the caretaker government of being “soft” on the Jamaat leader.

The Daily Star newspaper said Friday that the ACC waited till Thursday, when the Supreme Court upheld the government’s right to invoke emergency power rules (EPR) to prosecute those in the previous governments in a case relating to another former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.

Both Hasina and Zia are in jail, facing multiple corruption charges. Zia and her son Koko were detained Sep 3, 2007, a day after the government filed the case pertaining to Gatco.

This is the second charge sheet the ACC has approved against Zia since her arrest and the first against Koko. The ACC approved the first charge sheet against Zia April 30 in a graft case involving Canadian gas exploration and extraction company Niko Resources. The charge sheet was submitted May 6.

Zia and Hasina have denied all the charges against them and have described them as politically motivated. They allege that the government, planning to hold elections this year-end, wants to get them convicted so that they are disqualified from the contest.

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