Bangladesh court accepts graft charges against Khaled Zia



Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court today gave a go- ahead for the trial of former premier Khaleda Zia in a graft case involving her charitable trust and ordered the arrest of her former aide, one of the accused in the case.

A Dhaka court took cognizance of the graft charges against Zia after she appeared before the court.

"The chargesheet is taken into cognizance," a court official said quoting Metropolitan Sessions Judge M Zahirul Haque as saying.

As Zia left the court premises, hundreds of opposition activists thronged the area, halting traffic, chanting slogans and calling for the "false charge" to be scrapped.

The court also issued a warrant ordering the arrest of the now fugitive ex-political secretary of Zia, and co-accused in the case Haris Chowdhury, while setting January 31 as the next date for police to submit a compliance report.

Tight security was enforced around the court complex with elite anti-crime rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and riot police guarding the area.

The opposition BNP leader appeared before the court after a lapse of 11 previous dates which were set for her presence. Among the four accused is an incumbent government official.

She last appeared in the court on February 2, 2012 only to secure a permanent bail in the case.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case on August 8, 2011 accusing Zia and the three others. Zia has been accused of raising a fund worth Taka 3.15 crore from unknown sources, abusing her official position as PM.

Zia is faced with several graft charges mostly filed during the emergency rule of an army-backed interim government. The case involving the Zia Charitable Trust is the first one to reach an advanced stage.

The development came as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League and BNP are locked in a squabble over the electoral system ahead of the next year's general elections.

PTI