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Arrest warrant against Bangladesh ex-PM Khaleda Zia

Arrest warrant against Bangladesh ex-PM Khaleda Zia

Dhaka: A court in Bangladesh has issued arrest warrants against ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and two others in two cases filed by the country's anti-graft body.

The Special Judge Court-3 of Md Abu Ahmed Jomadar scrapped bail for Khaleda Zia, chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) after she failed to appear in the hearing of the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust graft cases Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

The two other accused are former BNP lawmaker Kazi Saleemul Haq and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed who were also absent from the court offering different excuses.

Zainul Abedin Meshbah, a counsel for Khaleda, said that his client could not attend for security reasons.

Police clashed with Khlaeda's angry supporters outside the court.

Khaleda last attended the hearing Dec 24.

On Jan 29, the judge fixed Feb 25 for hearing the two graft cases.

The Special Judge Court-3 of Dhaka March 19 last year framed charges against Khaleda, her elder son Tarique Rahman and seven others in the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust corruption cases filed by Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Khaleda was indicted in both cases, while her elder son Tarique Rahman, senior vice-chairman of the BNP, was indicted in the orphanage case.

The ACC filed the case in July 2008, saying that Khaleda and five others, including Tarique Rahman had embezzled over 20 million taka ($253,164) from the orphanage trust during her 2001-2006 term as prime minister.

In 2011, the anti-graft body sued the BNP chief and three others for pocketing 31.5 million taka of the Zia Charitable Trust in the name of her late husband, former President Ziaur Rahman.

Khaleda Zia's opposition 20-party alliance has been observing a non-stop blockade across the country since Jan 5, demanding fresh elections under a non-party caretaker government system.

On top of its blockade campaign, BNP and its 19 allies, including the key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, have been observing strikes at regular intervals since last month.

The alliance Tuesday extended its ongoing 72-hour nationwide strike till Friday morning in protest against what it said were the killings of opposition activists in the name of shootouts.

The fresh wave of violence has left scores of people dead and hundreds injured.

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