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Bangladesh government softens emergency law but presses corruption probe

[JURIST] Bangladesh's Emergency Powers Rules of 2007, instituted when Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed [Wikipedia profile] declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in January, has been amended to require the approval of concerned state officials before suspects face trial, appeal, bail, or even investigation, according to an announcement from the Bangladeshi Ministry of Home Affairs [official website] Monday. The amendment also permits courts to set bail for defendants who have not been charged, overriding last month's amendment preventing judicial bail orders. The amendment preempts consideration by the Bangladesh High Court, postponed until April 15, of whether it has power to set bail despite the ordinance's previous suspension. PTI has more.

Also on Monday, police in Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] said they are investigating bribery allegations involving former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [Virtual Bangladesh profile]. According to the allegations, Hasina accepted $441,000 in 1998 from businessman Tajul Islam Farooq in exchange for approval to build a power plant. The investigation is the latest in a string of corruption probes since Iajuddin assumed power. In recent weeks, government security forces have arrested dozens of politicians [JURIST news archive], mostly members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League [party websites]. Several major corruption trials are slated to begin [JURIST report] in the coming months. Transparency International [advocacy website] has listed Bangladesh as one of the world's most corrupt states. AP has more.

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