Two former Bangladesh premiers on trial next week (Lead)

May 23rd, 2008 - 4:29 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 23 (IANS) Former Bangladesh prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, who have been in jail for several months, go on trial next week on charges of corruption in connection with an oil contract awarded to a Canadian firm. Awami League’s Hasina, 61, was prime minister 1996-2001, and Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) Zia, 62, headed the government 2001-06. Both dealt with Niko Resources during their tenures, and have been charged by the Anti Corruption Commission of causing huge loses to the exchequer.

The trial of the two women leaders beginning Monday is unprecedented as the present interim government continues with its drive against corruption.

Zia’s jailed elder son Tarique Rahman also goes on trial next week charged with corruption and nepotism in another case, New Age newspaper said Friday.

Two Dhaka courts fixed the date on Thursday even as representatives of the current caretaker regime opened a political dialogue to prepare for the parliamentary elections that have been scheduled for December.

The government began the exercise with smaller parties, while the BNP, Awami League and their allies sought to make their leaders’ unconditional release a precondition for participating in the talks.

Awami League’s acting chief Mohammed Zillur Rahman warned Thursday that the dialogue would fail without his party’s participation.

The present interim government of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, charged under the constitution to hold election within 90 days, has fought off demands at home and international criticism saying it would hold elections only in December.

The Dhaka High Court Thursday held the Election Commission responsible for not holding election within the 90 days stipulated under the constitution, charging it with violating the statute.

The poll body said it was formed after the 90 day time limit was crossed and that it had no say in the timing of the elections.

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