Court sets next Hasina hearing for Jan 30
Monday, 28 January 2008

Former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Staff Correspondent

A Dhaka court dealing with charges of extortion against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday set Jan 30-31 for recording depositions from prosecution witnesses in a case filed by businessman Azam J Chowdhury.

Metropolitan sessions judge Md Azizul Haque made the decision in his court set up on the Sangsad Bhaban premises.

The judge fixed the new dates after the Supreme Court had cleared obstacles to holding the trial under emergency powers rules.

The Appellate Division Thursday overturned a previous rule by the High Court, which had stayed all proceedings of the case in the trial court.

The HC rule came amid arguments by Hasina's counsels that the case should not proceed under emergency rules since the so-called incident of taking money from the businessman had taken place years before the emergency rule was imposed.

But the latest decision by the Supreme Court has cleared that the trial can go ahead in the trial court.

Azam Chowdhury filed the case against former cabinet minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim on June 13, 2007, accusing him of taking about Tk 3 crore in return for allowing him to set up a power plant during the Awami League regime in 1996-2001.

Later, Hasina was charged with allegations that Selim took the amount for his cousin and the then prime minister Sheikh Hasina. It said Hasina received a good portion of the amount from Selim.

Police also charged Hasina's sister Sheikh Rehana with taking a portion of the extorted money. Rehana is being tried in absentia since she lives in London.

Azam Chowdhury said Thursday that he did not file any case against Hasina.

Hasina, Selim and Rehanan have also denied the charges.

Hasina and the Awami League said the charges are aimed at preventing the party chief from contesting the next polls.

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