B`desh lifts last graft case against Hasina

The last of the 15 graft cases, slapped against PM Sheikh Hasina was quashed.

Dhaka: The last of the 15 graft cases,
slapped against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was quashed on
Sunday, with a Bangladeshi court relieving her of a charge
relating to the appointment of a government adviser of a
state-run regulatory authority.

"She is now relieved of all the 15 graft charges
brought against her from 2001 to 2008 with the quashing of
this case," Hasina`s counsel and nephew Fazle-Noor Tapas told
reporters.

A two-judge High Court bench comprising M Shamsul Huda
and Abu Bakar Siddiqui ordered the case to be quashed, nine
years after the Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party
government slapped the charges against her.

According to the complaint, during the 1996-2001
tenure of Hasina`s government, she had appointed an adviser to
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) defying a
standing policy that caused the misuse of over Taka 2.10 crore
of the public exchequer.

The High Court bench in 2002 stayed the proceedings of
the case at the lower court on a writ petition by Hasina and
it finally quashed the case saying, "no ingredient of any
misuse of pubic money was found in the case".

"If such cases are allowed to be continued nobody will
be able to do anything for the country," the court observed.

Hasina was faced with 15 graft cases, nine of them
filed during the 2001-2006 BNP-led four party regime and the
rest lodged during the subsequent military-backed interim
government under tough emergency rules.

Nine of the cases were quashed eventually as the High
Court found no merit in them while four were withdrawn for
being "politically motivated" in line with recommendation of
the special committee constituted to review the graft cases
filed during the past interim government.

Zia is currently faced with four graft charges, all
filed by the interim government under the Emergency Power
Rules, while three of them were stayed by the High Court
pending their hearing for quashing and one of the cases was
being tried at a special graft court.

Installed with crucial military support, the interim
administration launched a massive anti-graft campaign that saw
the arrest of nearly 200 high profile people, mostly
politicians while Hasina and Zia too were detained in jail for
nearly one year to face the trial.

More than 150 people, including 70 high-profile
politicians belonging to both the parties were jailed and many
others fled the country or went into hiding.

Hasina and Zia were freed on a government "executive
order" and High Court bail respectively ahead of elections.

Several analysts said the anti-graft campaign suffered
a little setback after December 2008 general elections that
installed the Awami League government.

PTI

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