Bangla SC adjourns hearing in Hasina extortion case

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Dhaka, Feb 12: The Bangladesh Supreme Court today adjourned the hearing for a week on the government stay petition against a High Court judgement that declared illegal an extortion case against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

A seven-member Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice M Ruhul Amin asked the government to file a regular leave petition by the February 19 deadline against the High Court judgement given on February 6. The High Court in its judgement described illegal the trial in a three crore Taka extortion case filed by Azam J Chowdhury, an executive of a power company, against Ms Hasina under Emergency Power Rules (EPR).

The High Court also quashed the entire trial proceedings of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court, relocated to the high security parliament building complex. After today's apex Court decision, Ms Hasina would not be able to come out of the jail as she has been shown arrested in another extortion case.

Ms Hasina ruled the country as Prime Minister for five years since 1996. On June 13 last year Mr Chowdhury, Managing Director of East Coast Trading Pvt Ltd, a private power company, filed the case.

After a month Ms Hasina was arrested on July 16 in connection with this case. Barrister Shafique Ahmed, one of the counsel for detained Ms Hasina, told reporters that the Supreme Court did not pass any stay order on the High Court judgement.

He explained that following today's Supreme Court order, the High Court judgement stands in force and the trial against Ms Hasina at lower court would remain stalled.

Ms Hasina's younger sister Sheikh Rehana staying in London and cousin detained ex-Minister Fazlul Karim Selim were also made accused in the case.

Ms Hasina's rival, the immediate past prime minister Khaleda Zia who ruled the country till October 2006 as Prime Minister is also under detention in connection with a corruption case.

Incumbent military-backed caretaker government headed by Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed rounded up nearly 200 high profile politicians and businessmen on charges of corruption in a bid to clean domestic politics ahead of the general elections to be held before December this year.


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