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Bangladesh Supreme Court suspends Hasina’s bail


Dhaka : Bangladesh’s Supreme Court Monday suspended the bail granted the Dhaka High Court granted to detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina just a day after her political rival, Khaleda Zia, won an appeal in an identical case.

An appellate division full bench of the Supreme Court, headed by chief justice Ruhul Amin, issued the orders after hearing the petitions submitted by the government and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), private news agency bdnews24 reported.

The government and the ACC filed appeals with the appellate division against the high court order Nov 8 that granted bail to Sheikh Hasina, Xinhua said.

Hasina, who also heads Awami League, one of the country’s major parties, had earned the reprieve from the high court Nov 4 against the government’s bid to investigate her wealth. The court had also ordered to stay the case proceedings in a corruption case involving taka 30 million (about $428,500).

The ACC had filed a case Sep 2 against Hasina and six others, charging them with accepting donations of taka 30 million (about $428,500), for helping a foreign company and its local partner in setting up three private sector power projects. The government later included the case for trial under emergency powers rules (EPR).

Another jailed former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, won an appeal in the high court in a similar case Sunday after the court stayed a notice issued by the ACC asking Zia to submit a statement of wealth.

The ACC, which is spearheading the government’s anti-corruption drive, has yet to find a way out of what could be procedural lacunae in issuing a notice to over 200 high-profile politicians suspected of concealing wealth and evading tax payment.

Hearing Zia’s petition, the court’s division bench asked the ACC to explain in eight weeks why the notice should not be declared illegal, the Daily Star reported Monday.

“If we give up or are compelled to move away from the ongoing drive against graft, not only the ACC but the entire nation will be defeated. But that will not happen easily,” ACC Chairman Lt. Gen. (retired) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury said in reaction to the high court decision.

Both Zia and Hasina, jailed on graft charges, had earlier expressed inability to file their wealth statements while in detention, with the banks not cooperating. However, both complied when their appeals were rejected. Zia also paid a part of her tax.

President Iajuddin Ahmed declared state of emergency in Bangladesh Jan 11 to quell political violence between the two major political parties – the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – over abortive parliamentary polls set for Jan 22 this year.

Hasina petitioned the high court Oct 28, questioning the legality of transferring the case for trial under the EPR. At the same time, she appealed for bail in the case.

Hasina, who was in power from 1996 to 2001, was arrested on July 16 this year and detained in a special jail in the national parliament building complex in connection with the extortion case involving about taka 29.9 million taka (about $427,000).

The current military-backed caretaker government installed in January this year declared a war on corruption to clean up politics before holding general elections end of 2008.

Nearly 200 high-profile political leaders have so far been arrested on charges of corruption, extortion and abuse of powers. Another former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, party chief of the BNP, was arrested in a corruption case on Sep 3.