Dhaka: Bangladesh's former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was today ordered to appear before a court on April 13 to face trial in a USD 1.85 million graft case over contracting out cargo handling work to a company in exchange of kickbacks, a week after the High Court lifted a stay on proceedings of the nearly a decade old case.
Dhaka's Third Special Judge's Court asked 70-year-old opposition leader to appear on April 13 as the High Court cleared ways for her trial in the case, a court official said. Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar also ordered personal appearance of 12 other co-accused of the case on the same day alongside the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief.
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case in 2007 during the military-installed caretaker regime.
It accused the former prime minister of contracting out an "unqualified" company called GATCO the task of handling containers at the country's main southeastern seaport of Chittagong and
Inland Container Depot in Dhak allegedly in exchange of kickbacks during the 2001-2006 tenure of her BNP-led four party coalition government.
According to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) charge sheet the accused incurred a loss of more than Taka 145.63 million (USD 1.85 million) to the state exchequer by contracting out the cargo handling task to the company.
Zia, her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko, six of her cabinet colleagues in the past BNP-led four-party coalition government, and others including officials were charged in the case.
Zia's son Koko, however, died last year.
The ex-prime minister and the co-accused were indicted in the case in September 2007 under a massive anti-graft campaign which was being spearheaded by the then interim government, installed with crucial military support after the January 11, 2007 proclamation of the state of emergency.
But the accused secured a stay order from the High Court in July 2008 on the proceedings of the case as Zia had challenged the legality of filing the case.