Street clashes: Murder charges against Hasina dropped
Last Updated: Monday, August 17, 2009, 20:42
Dhaka: A Bangladesh court on Monday dropped murder charges against Premier Sheikh Hasina, filed during the tenure of the previous army-backed interim government in connection with the violent political street protests here that killed seven people in October 2006.

Metropolitan Magistrate Dilara Alo Chandana ordered the withdrawal of the murder case against Hasina and 45 others, granting a government petition that said it was filed with a "political motive," officials and lawyers said.

The Home Ministry petition said the First Information report did not name Hasina as an accused, but she was indicted as the police submitted the chargesheet six months later, while she was abroad on a tour.

She was arrested under the emergency rule on her return home and was also charged in nearly a dozen graft cases by the them interim administration, which also detained her archrival Khaleda Zia of BNP on identical graft charges.

They, however, were released apparently under an understanding with the interim government of Fakhruddin Ahmed ahead of the landmark December 29, 2008 general elections that brought Hasina's Awami League to power with three-fourths majority.

The withdrawal of the murder charges over the October 2006 Purana Paltan violence was the latest of several cases against Hasina, which were lifted after a review by a high-power government committee in the past several months.

Police on April 11, 2007 charged Hasina and fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Motiur Rahman Nizami in two counter cases for murder of seven people in the 2006 clashes in line with two cases filed by JI and left-leaning Workers Party, an Awami League ally.

During the day-long clashes between rivals on that day at least seven people were killed at downtown Purana Paltan area while Jamaat, a crucial partner in the past BNP-led four party regime, claimed that five of them were its activists while Workers Party said one of the victims belonged to their group.

Police were widely blamed for standing as "silent spectators" during the clashes that were followed by heightened political tension in the country ahead of planned general elections.

Awami League of Hasina, 61, had vowed to resist the poll, saying it was set to be rigged through manipulation and ghost voters while the growing political uncertainty eventually prompted the military intervention.

The army forced Ahmed to declare the state of emergency on January 11, 2007.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, August 17, 2009, 20:42

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