Bangladesh jails former minister for corruption

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DHAKA, Nov 15 (Reuters) A Bangladesh court jailed a former state minister for power for nine years today on corruption charges as part of the army-backed interim government's anti-graft campaign, lawyers said.

A special anti-graft court also ordered the confiscation of Iqbal Hassan Mahmood's property worth 3 billion taka (44 million dollars) for amassing wealth illegally through ''abuse of power''.

Iqbal served in the government of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, whose five-year term ended in October 2006.

Khaleda and perennial rival Sheikh Hasina are both in jail, facing trial for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

More than 170 key political figures, including Khaleda's two sons and dozens of ex-ministers, have been detained since the interim authority took charge in January, following months of political violence.

The authority imposed an indefinite state of emergency and banned political activity, but has vowed to hold a free and fair election in late 2008 after completing the anti-corruption drive.

REUTERS PD VC2029

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