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Khaleda Zia. — File photo
Khaleda Zia. — File photo

DHAKA: A Bangladesh court ruled Wednesday opposition leader Khaleda Zia should stand trial for embezzlement in a case that could see her jailed for life, a prosecutor said.

The High Court rejected the former two-time premier's appeals to halt the trial, which had been expected to start on Monday after she was indicted on charges of embezzling more than $650,000.

“Both her appeals have been rejected. There is no bar to continue her trial in the two cases,” deputy attorney general Mohammad Selim told AFP.

A panel of two judges said the charges framed against Zia should stand and the trial could now go ahead in a special anti-corruption court in Dhaka, Selim said.

Zia's lawyers have called the charges politically motivated, aimed at destroying her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has vowed to topple the government of arch rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Zia was indicted just weeks after Hasina was re-elected in a Jan 5 general election which the centre-right BNP and its 18 allies boycotted and denounced as a farce.

Police detained thousands of opposition officials and supporters and charged many more during and after the election, which was the bloodiest in the country's short history.

Zia's lawyer Sanaullah Miah said he would now lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court, the country's highest, in a final attempt to stop the trial from going ahead.

“It is now clear that the government wants to put Zia in jail. That's why we are not getting any justice in any court,” he told AFP.

Prosecutors say Zia and three of her co-accused siphoned off 31.5 million taka (about $400,000) from a charitable trust named after her late husband Ziaur Rahman, a former president who was assassinated in 1981.

She is also accused of leading a group of five people, including her eldest son Tarique Rahman, in embezzling 21.5 million taka ($270,00), funds which were meant to go to orphanage set up in memory of her late husband.

Comments (4) Closed

Zak Apr 23, 2014 06:07pm

When will the court start a trial of Hasina for embezzlement. She and her family have siphoned of millions from foreign contracts , specially from Indian companies. But then this kangaroo, quack court is Hasina personal court.

Time for army to step in coming closer.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Apr 23, 2014 06:56pm

What a joke? Once again, the kangaroo courts established by Haseena Wajid and her cronies in action. It looks she wants all of her opponents physically wiped-out from the face of earth in order to stay in power for ever. What a tragedy?

Rafi Ka Deewana Apr 23, 2014 08:27pm

I am all for penalizing the corrupt officers doesn't matter who they are. Our countries have too many of them. Let us just hope it isn't politically motivated.

Zak Apr 24, 2014 12:46am

@Rafi Ka Deewana Good luck with that!