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Bangladesh court jails former cabinet ministers on corruption charges

[JURIST] A Bangladeshi court on Monday ordered three members of the cabinet of former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [profile] to jail on corruption charges. Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad, and Saifur Rahman, who served as industry, social welfare and finance ministers respectively, allegedly ignored lower bidders when they awarded a Chinese company a contract to operate a coal mine in northern Bangladesh. Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, and Rahman, leader of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) are important allies of Zia who have threatened to boycott parliamentary elections [BBC report] scheduled for next month. Hearings in the case against the three detained men will be held later this week. The International Herald Tribune has more. BDNews24 has local coverage.

In May, Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute] filed formal corruption and abuse of power charges [JURIST report] against Zia for an alleged kickback scheme that awarded lucrative gas contracts to Canadian oil company Niko Resources Ltd.. Bangladesh's current anti-corruption crackdown began in February 2007 as eight former Bangladeshi ministers were accused of corruption and 13 other former ministers and senior politicians were arrested in raids on their homes after Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency in the country and canceled a scheduled national election [JURIST reports]. Zia and her son were arrested on suspicion of corruption [JURIST report] in September.

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