Zia faces her first formal graft charge

May 6th, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 6 (IANS) Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia Tuesday faced her first formal graft charge as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) accused her and 10 others of abuse of power in awarding a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko. Her law minister Moudud Ahmed and former state minister for energy A.K.M. Mosharraf Hossain are among the others named in the charge sheet before the court.

Zia, 62, who ruled Bangladesh for 10 years, during 1991-96 and then in 2001-06, has been in jail since last September.

She was produced before a court Tuesday for various charges including those pertaining to awarding of contract for constructing three barge-mount power plants. The case was adjourned till May 12, Star Online said.

The case also involves her political rival and another former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, 61, in jail since last July on a number of charges.

Hasina would also be implicated along with Zia in the Niko case besides six others, all her political associates and top officials concerned with awarding of the contract, The Daily Star newspaper said.

It said Zia, Moudud Ahmed and others who have been detained in connection with other cases, were shown as arrested in the Niko case as well.

Both sons of Zia and political associates of Hasina are facing trial in different corruption cases.

The two women leaders and their supporters say the charges are politically motivated.

They say the army-backed government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed wants to keep them in jail and hassled with legal trials to keep them out of politics. It is pressing for their conviction in one case or the other to have them disqualified from contesting elections promised for this year-end.

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Posted in South Asia |