Trial against Hasina deferred as Bangladesh prepares for polls

October 23rd, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 23 (IANS) A Dhaka court has deferred till Jan 7 - well after the Dec 18 parliamentary elections - the trial of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, accused of receiving kickbacks in the purchase of eight MiG-29 combat aircraft from Russia when she was in office 1996-2001. All cases against Hasina and her political rival and another former prime minister Khaleda Zia stand adjourned till after the polls as part of the military-backed caretaker government’s effort to create “a conducive atmosphere” for the polls.

While this has had political parties demanding more, including lifting of the national emergency imposed in January last year - when the polls were cancelled, objections have come from the political spectrum and sections of the civil society.

While recognising the urgency of having polls and a government with a popular mandate, jurist and former minister Kamal Hossain has objected to the courts granting bails in over 200 cases in just 100 minutes earlier this month.

The caretaker government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, he told The Daily Star newspaper, after 20 months of anti-graft drive that has resulted in trials and many convictions, has “slowed down” the process.

While Zia has been bailed out and is busy talking to her political allies, among them the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), as part of the poll preparations, Hasina’s bail remains uncertain.

Hasina has been abroad since June for medical treatment and in her absence, Zia is widely perceived as having a position of advantage vis a vis her rivals.

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