Court stays all graft cases against Khaleda Zia

October 16th, 2008 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 16 (DPA) A High Court bench Thursday ordered a three-month stay on all proceedings of a graft case against Bangladesh’s former prime minister Khaleda Zia and 15 others, court officials said.The order came hours after a lower court ordered Khaleda - the chief of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which led the last elected government - to face a special court.

The High Court bench, comprising Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Farid Ahmed, ordered the stay after holding a hearing upon a repeal petition filed by Khaleda’s counsels.

The court also asked the Anti-Corruption Commission, which investigated the corruption charge, and the government to explain within two weeks “why the proceedings against the accused should not be declared illegal”.

Earlier, a lower court ordered Khaleda and her colleagues in the 2001-2006 cabinet and several other officials to face the special court, set up to try high-politicians accused of corruption.

The court was created by the military-backed government after launching a massive anti-crime drive in 2007

A good number of senior leaders of Khaleda’s party as well as another former prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League were sentenced to jail terms by the court, which generally wraps up proceedings in a maximum of 90 days.

These politicians might be disqualified in contesting the December general election unless their convictions are stayed by higher courts.

Several thousand supporters crowded onto the streets as Khaleda, who was released on bail in four other corruption cases, arrived at the court for Thursday’s hearing amid tight security. They chanted slogans asking the government to lift all “fabricated” cases.

She was released from jail on Sep 11, a year after being detained on graft charges.

Meanwhile, another High Court bench asked the government for a two-week extension before Hasina, a former prime minister who ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, is to appear in court.

Hasina, who is now in Canada, was paroled on medical grounds June 11, nearly a year after she was detained by the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed.

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