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Hasina Appears in Bangladesh Court; Khaleda Absent

  • VOA News
  • Anis Ahmed

Bangladesh's former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a brief appearance in a special court in the capital, Dhaka, Monday to face corruption charges.

Ms. Hasina, of the Awami League, was granted a six-day extension after her lawyers told the judge they had not received the necessary documents and needed more time to prepare.

Her longtime rival, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, did not appear in court, as scheduled. Officials said she was ill but her lawyers said the head of the Bangladesh National Party was fine and that they do not know why authorities did not bring her to court.

The hearing came a day after the military-backed interim government approved formation of a Truth and Accountability Commission, which will allow corruption suspects to avoid jail if they admit to the charges they face and return any illegally-earned wealth.

The two former prime ministers are among some 170 politicians and business people arrested by the interim government as part of its massive anti-graft sweep.

The latest prominent figure to be arrested is former army chief General Mustafizur Rahman.

The Bangladeshi military took over in January 2007 after months of political turmoil, declared emergency rule and installed a caretaker government. Elections were canceled and are now set to take place this December.

Bangladesh, with 150 million people, has been consistently ranked as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

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