Dhaka court orders arrest of 12 former ministers

May 16th, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 16 (IANS) A Dhaka court has issued arrest warrants against a dozen former ministers, some of whom it declared absconding, in a corruption case filed against former prime minister Khaleda Zia and her associates. Thursday’s action, another first in Bangladesh’s military-backed caretaker government’s drive against corruption, prompted some of those charged to move a higher court for anticipatory bail.

The 12 include Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami who was industry minister in Zia’s coalition government (2001-06), as well as her Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) M. Saifur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, M.K. Anwar and M. Shamsul Islam.

The government has also charged Zia, in prison since September last year, in the case pertaining to alleged corruption in awarding a contract to Global Agro-Tech Corporation (Gatco).

Judge Mohammad Azizul Haque of the metropolitan sessions judge’s court directed the court’s officials to instantly send copies of the arrest warrants to police stations concerned, asking the law enforcing agencies to report to the court about implementation of the order on May 22.

The judge also fixed May 22 to produce those accused in the case.

Following the order, two of the accused - Anwar and Shamsul Islam - moved the high court for anticipatory bail but failed to get it.

Bhuiyan, who Zia expelled from the post of BNP secretary general, and Nizami were preparing themselves to be detained any time, the Daily Star said quoting unnamed sources “close to them”.

Former finance minister Saifur Rahman, who is heading a BNP faction that is allegedly propped up by the government, left for Singapore for medical treatment last week.

Another former minister, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowhdury, has been in hiding since the army-led joint forces began its crackdown on corruption suspects.

The court action came on a day the Anti-Corruption Commission charged another high profile minister Moudud Ahmed, already in jail, of amassing wealth worth Taka 73.8 million ($1.2 million) “through illegal means and withholding information about wealth”, the newspaper said.

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