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Bangladesh extortion trial of ex-PM Hasina resumes

[JURIST] The extortion trial of former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed [party profile; JURIST news archive] resumed Wednesday in Dhaka, after the Bangladesh Supreme Court last week rejected Hasina's appeal of the proceedings [JURIST report]. Hasina had argued that she could not be tried under the current state of emergency rules because the alleged crimes occurred before the state of emergency [JURIST report] was declared last January. Hasina was formally charged [JURIST report] earlier this month with two counts of extortion for allegedly taking nearly $1.16 million from two businessmen while in office between 1996 and 2001. 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. Also on Wednesday, the court ruled that the detention of Tarique Rahman [JURIST report], the son of former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile], was illegal.

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 due to concerns that fraud would mar scheduled national elections. Both Hasina's sister, Shaikh Rehana, and her cousin, Shaikh Selim, a former minister in her cabinet, have also been charged with extortion. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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