Bangladeshi PM cleared of all corruption cases: lawyer

Afp May 31, 2010

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi court has thrown out the last of 15 corruption cases that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had faced since coming to power in early 2009, a lawyer said on Monday.

The country’s high court ruled on Sunday that “no offence has been committed” when Hasina ordered the appointment of an American lobbyist in 2001 to promote Bangladeshi exports at a cost to the state of 357,000 dollars, her lawyer said.

“The judges said the case was motivated by a political vendetta and an urge for vengeance. It was an attempt to harass her,” Abdul Matin Khosru, who was law minister in Hasina’s 1996-2001 government, told AFP.

He said that the dismissal meant all 15 criminal cases against Hasina, who lost power to her rival Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 2001 before sweeping back to power in 2008 elections, had been dismissed.

“Her long judicial ordeal is over,” Khosru said, adding that the Supreme Court had quashed nine cases, the police declined to press charges in two other cases and the rest had been dropped by the plaintiffs.

Khosru said most of the charges related to graft and abuse of power, and had been filed by Zia’s BNP government or the army-backed administration that ruled the country for two years from January 2007.

Hasina, who was sworn in for a second term as premier in January 2009, was detained for a year by the army-backed emergency government, which carried out a crackdown on major graft, mainly targeting political leaders.

She was released as part of a deal with the caretaker authorities so that she could run in the elections that brought her back to power.

Khosru said Hasina had also been cleared of charges stemming from a violent street clash between her Awami League supporters and opposition Jamaat-i-Islami supporters in Dhaka in October 2006. The clashes left six dead.

“Most of these charges were politically motivated. There was no merit to the cases,” he said.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 1st, 2010.


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