Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court Monday ordered an investigation into an allegation of murder against opposition leader Khaleda Zia over the death of dozens of people in petrol bomb attacks during a continuing transport blockade.
The order from a lower court in the capital Dhaka comes after a pro-government activist, A. B. Siddiqi, filed a private complaint against Zia, the leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
"Metropolitan Magistrate Atiqur Rahman ordered the Gulshan police in Dhaka to investigate the complaint and submit a report by March 1," Ashiqur Rahman, a court official, told AFP.
A lawyer for the plaintiff said Zia was responsible for the death of 42 people killed after opposition activists firebombed buses and trucks as part of a new wave of anti-government protests.
"She is to blame for the death of 42 innocent people as she ordered her supporters to attack vehicles with petrol bombs," said lawyer Roushonara Sikder Daizy.
Experts said it was extremely unlikely that a private complaint would result in a criminal prosecution. But they said the case was designed to intimidate Zia, who launched the blockade as part of her campaign to topple the government.
The 69-year-old leader, who has been holed up in her office since January 3, has already been charged by police with lesser crimes including "abetting" and "instigating" the firebombings.