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Bangladesh ex-PM appears in court to face graft charges after hospital release

[JURIST] Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [party profile; JURIST news archive] appeared in court Sunday, shortly after being released from hospital care for severe ear and eye conditions, to face charges [JURIST report] that she received approximately $440,000 in illegal kickbacks on a power-plant deal while in office between 1996 and 2001. Her appearance before the court has been postponed numerous times because of her heath and her initial insistence [Arab News report] that she be allowed to travel outside the country for care, a request that the court has refused. After her court appearance, Hasina was returned to a special prison in Dhaka, the nation's capital.

The two cases against Hasina, who also faces separate extortion charges, have also been delayed by a series of appeals by her lawyers, who argue that she cannot be tried under the current state of emergency rules because the alleged crimes occurred before the national state of emergency [JURIST report] was declared last January. The Bangladesh Supreme Court [official website] rejected those arguments in January, ruling that her extortion trial could continue. The Dhaka High Court in February halted the trial [JURIST report], agreeing with her lawyers, but the Supreme Court later stayed the High Court's judgment [Xinhua report] and reiterated its June decision, paving the way for trial proceedings to continue. Hasina, who has denied all charges, faces up to 14 years in jail if convicted. Reuters has more.

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