Bangladesh court orders ex-PM's sister to surrender

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DHAKA, Nov 11 (Reuters) A Bangladesh court today ordered the only sister of detained former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to surrender herself within the next seven days to face extortion charges.

Hasina's younger sister Sheikh Rehana -- now living abroad -- was recently implicated by the army-backed interim government in an extortion case in which Hasina is one of the principal accused.

''As per the order Rehana must surrender by November 18, otherwise the court might take other legal steps to bring her to book,'' a court registrar said.

Hasina has been detained at a house within the sprawling compound of Bangladesh's parliament in Dhaka since July 16, accused of extorting around 1 million dollars for two businessmen during her tenure between 1996 to 2001.

Her arch-rival former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia was also detained in early September on graft charges, and is being held in another house on the same compound.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January, when the army-backed interim government took charge following months of political violence.

It banned political activities, rallies and protests, cancelled an election planned for January 22 and launched a massive crackdown on corruption aimed at cleaning up politics before parliamentary elections it vowed to hold around the end of next year.

More than 170 leading politicians, including Khaleda's two sons and dozens of ex-ministers, have been detained in the anti-corruption drive.

REUTERS KK RN1600

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