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Bangladesh court nixes corruption trial of ex-PM Hasina under emergency rules

[JURIST] The corruption trial of former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed [party profile; JURIST news archive] was halted Wednesday when the Dhaka High Court ruled that she could not be tried by a special court established under state of emergency rules because the alleged crimes occurred before the national state of emergency [JURIST report] was declared last January. Hasina was formally charged [JURIST report] in Dhaka last month with two counts of extortion, and was being tried on the first charge for allegedly taking nearly $435,000 from the owner of a power company while in office between 1996 and 2001. She faces up to 14 years in jail if convicted. The government plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, which has previously ruled that Hasina's trial could proceed [JURIST report].

Wednesday's ruling places in jeopardy the corruption cases brought against the other individuals in the wake of emergency rule. 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 the state of emergency 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 leader of the opposition Awami League [party website]. AFP has more.

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