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Formal corruption charges laid against former Bangladesh PM

[JURIST] Former Bangladeshi Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina [party profile] was formally charged Tuesday with extortion for alleged kickbacks she received during her tenure in office. According to the charges, the former PM and two relatives received thousands of dollars from deals, including one awarding a contract to an electric company. Hasina was arrested last week, and has at least two other extortion cases pending against her. Hasina maintains that the arrest was politically motivated to keep her from becoming involved in future elections.

In June, Hasina, the leader of the opposition Awami League [party website], criticized the arrest [JURIST report] of Awami secretary general Abdul Jalil as an "autocratic move" motivated by politics rather than any legitimate attempt to stamp out corruption. The Bangladeshi interim emergency government [JURIST report], which came to power in January with the backing of the military, has used its anti-corruption campaign [BBC Q&A; JURIST news archive] to justify the declaration of a state of emergency [JURIST report] allowing detention without warrants or specific charges. The emergency government has also filed corruption charges against Hasina's rival, former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile] and last Thursday jailed a UN human rights expert who had been prevented from traveling to Geneva to deliver a report on human trafficking. BBC News has more.

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