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Bangladesh court weighs bid to block expulsion of former PM

[JURIST] The Bangladesh High Court Thursday received a petition from a supporter of former Bangladesh prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia [Virtual Bangladesh profile] Thursday to halt Khaleda's exile, arguing that the forced expulsion was a violation of her human rights. Government sources said Khaleda had agreed to be exiled from Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] in exchange for leniency for her sons Tareque Rahman and Arafat Rahman [JURIST reports], who had been arrested on corruption charges. Arafat was released 24 hours after he was first detained. On Wednesday, sources close to Khaleda reported that she had changed her mind and now wished to remain in Bangladesh. Some speculated that Khaleda's decision to remain in the country may have been prompted by the announcement that her political rival Sheikh Hasina [Virtual Bangladesh profile] intended to return to Bangladesh despite her own government-imposed exile [JURIST report]. The interim government said Wednesday that security forces and port authorities were ready to take "necessary actions" to prevent Hasina's return.

In recent weeks, security forces have arrested more than 60 politicians [JURIST news archive], mostly members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League [party websites]. Corruption watchdog group Transparency International [advocacy website] lists Bangladesh among the world's most corrupt nations. Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed [official profile] declared a national state of emergency [JURIST report] on January 11 in the face of unrest over upcoming national elections and later cancelled a scheduled national poll. The interim military-backed government has delayed general elections until the end of 2008. Reuters has more.

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