‘Hasina shared graft money,’ says aide


Dhaka : A key aide to Sheikh Hasina has told Bangladeshi authorities that he shared with the former prime minister money taken from a businessman for approving his project, a newspaper reported Friday.

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Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, who is also a cousin of Hasina, reportedly made the confession before a magistrate that he "shared" Taka 29 million (about $500,000) taken from Azam Chowdhury, managing director of a power company.

The Daily Star Friday carried a report of Selim's 'confession', made in camera.It also reported another such confession by a former minister in the government of Hasina's rival, Begum Khaleda Zia.

On the basis of the second confession, former minister Amanullah Aman was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment Thursday. His wife Sabera was jailed for three years.

Aman was sentenced on corruption charges and for possessing what the media has called "ill gotten wealth" while Sabera was convicted for abetting the crime.

Political analysts point out the even-handed approach by the interim government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed when it comes to detaining people and initiating prosecution on corruption charges.

Details of the two separate court proceedings came on a day separate criminal cases were filed against former Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) lawmakers Maulana Abdus Subhan and Syed Abdullah Mohammad Taher.

JeI was a coalition partner of Zia and shared power with her during 2001-06.

Both Hasina and Zia have said the charges and prosecution were politically motivated and that they and their family members were being specially targeted. Zia's politician son Tareq Rahman has been in jail for over three months on extortion charges.

The government has said that it is only trying to weed out crime and corruption in the country and is initiating political reforms.

It has detained an estimated 200,000 people, which includes hundreds with political connections.

While broadly approving the measures, the US, Britain, the European Union and human rights groups have called for transparency in the process.