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Bangladesh ex-PM Hasina formally charged with extortion

[JURIST] Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [party profile; JURIST news archive] was formally charged with extortion in Dhaka on Sunday. Hasina and co-defendant Sheikh Selim, a former Minister of Government, are accused of extorting around $1.16 million from two businessmen while in office. Reuters cited court officials as saying that her trial will begin January 17, and that a verdict should he handed down within 60 days. In October, Hasina 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, led by former central bank chief Fakhruddin Ahmed [official website; TIME interview] has arrested over 170 high-profile citizens since the military-backed government declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] last January due to concerns that fraud would mar scheduled national elections scheduled. 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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