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Bangladesh ex-PM Hasina put on trial for extortion

[JURIST] Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [party profile] went on trial on one of two alleged extortion charges [Reuters report] in a Dhaka courtroom Wednesday, according to a court official cited by Reuters. Sheikh Selim, a former Minister of Government, also appeared on similar charges. Hasina is accused of extorting around $1.16 million from two businessmen. In October, she denied the accusations [JURIST report] during questioning by officials. If convicted, she would be banned from running for office for 10 years.

The current interim government in Bangladesh has arrested over 150 high-profile citizens since the military-backed government declared a state of emergency [JURIST report; advocacy backgrounder] in January due to concerns that fraud would mar national elections scheduled for January 22. Hasina's rival, former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [profile], has also been charged with corruption [JURIST report]. Hasina was prime minister between 1996 and 2001 and is the the leader of the opposition Awami League [party website]. Reuters has more.

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