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Bangladesh corruption trials to begin next month

[JURIST] Seven more high-profile persons suspected of corruption were arrested in Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] Sunday as government officials announced that trials will begin in March as part of the nation's move to curb the problem. Last week Bangladeshi authorities published a list [JURIST report] of several hundred people suspected of graft; the top 50 suspects, many of whom are prominent public figures, were arrested and given a Sunday deadline to explain why their incomes did not match their current wealth value. Sunday's arrests included several former government ministers, two ex-Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] lawmakers, a regional BNP chief, and a city council commissioner. Thirty-six of the 50 arrested have links to the BNP or the opposition Awami League [party website]. The first round of trials will begin in March as the Anti-Corruption Commission [LCG backgrounder; BBC report] moves forward with investigations. Also on Sunday, former army chief lieutenant general Hasan Mashud Chowdhury stepped in as head of the Commission, following the resignation (Daily Star report) of Supreme Court Justice Sultan Hossain Khan earlier this month.

The anti-corruption crackdown began earlier this month as eight former Bangladeshi ministers were accused of corruption [JURIST report] and 13 other former ministers and senior politicians were arrested in raids on their homes [JURIST report]. Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed [Wikipedia profile] declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in the country on January 11 and later cancelled a scheduled national election. The interim military-backed government has promised to hold new elections, but no date has yet been set. Ahmed's January 11 replacement as caretaker government chief, Fakhruddin Ahmed [official profile], has vowed to reform the election commission before a new vote is held. AFP has more.

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