Bangladesh court grants interim bail to ex-PM

Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina was granted interim bail by the High Court on Monday, nearly two weeks after she was detained on extortion charges, her lawyers said.

Bangladesh court grants interim bail to ex-PM
Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina was granted interim bail by the High Court on Monday, nearly two weeks after she was detained on extortion charges, her lawyers said.

The court gave the authorities two weeks to provide justification for the use of emergency laws to prosecute the Awami League leader, but she was unlikely to be freed immediately because of a second extortion charge filed against her on Sunday.

"The court ruled that Hasina should remain free on bail for the two weeks, by when the government will explain its grounds to prosecute her under emergency rules," lawyer Abdul Matin Khasru said.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency imposed by the army-backed interim administration, which took over in January and launched a crackdown on corruption ahead of elections planned for late next year.

Hasina was arrested on July 16 and sent to a house converted into a prison inside Dhaka's sprawling parliament compound. Charges of extorting money from a businessman were formally filed against her a week later.

Hasina's lawyers filed a petition signed by her with the High Court on Sunday, arguing emergency rules imposed this year -- which require the prosecution to be completed within 45 days -- should not be used to try a case relating to offences allegedly committed in 1998.

The former prime minister is accused of extorting 80 million taka ($1.16 million) from two businessmen during her last spell in office from 1996 to 2001.

Hasina denies the charges, which she says are being used to try and force her out of politics ahead of the elections.

More than 170 political figures, including former ministers in both the governments of Hasina and her arch rival Begum Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have been detained for graft and abuse of power.

Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Temmuz 2007, 11:23
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