Ex-PM Hasina appears before graft court
Monday, 31 March 2008

Reuters, DHAKA - Former prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina appeared before a graft court on Sunday soon after being released from hospital, officials said.

Her lawyers quoted her telling the court she was still sick, her treatment was incomplete and that she had been forced to appear before the court.

Hasina was admitted to the hospital on March 11 for ear and eye ailments. She was also suffering from high blood pressure following her arrest in July last year.

The court heard the graft charge in the presence of her lawyers, some party leaders and relatives, a court registrar said.

She was then taken to a special prison nearby in Dhaka's sprawling parliament compound.

The Anti-Corruption Commission had filed the charges with the court last month accusing Hasina of accepting 30 million taka ($440,000) in kickbacks in a power plant deal during her term in office.

Hasina is also being prosecuted by a separate court for allegedly extorting more than $400,000 from a businessman when she was in power between 1996 and 2001.

She denies any wrongdoing.

Another detained former prime minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, is being held in a separate building in the same compound. She, too, is likely to face trial on graft charges soon.

More than 170 key political figures have been detained by the army-backed interim authority since it took charge in January last year following months of political violence.

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