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Bangladesh foreign minister begins 13-year corruption sentence

[JURIST] Former Bangladeshi foreign minister Morshed Khan began serving as a 13-year sentence on Sunday, after surrendering to a Dhaka court. Khan, who served from 2001 to 2006 under former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [profile] was convicted [Reuters report] last September of illegally amassing nearly $250,000 by the country's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute]. Khan fled the country following the January 2007 state of emergency declaration [JURIST report] suspended democratic rights throughout the country. The trial court denied Khan's request for bail in compliance with a directive from the High Court of Bangladesh. Three other Zia officials were jailed [JURIST report] in November. Zia herself was arrested on suspicion of corruption [JURIST report] in September 2007.

Khan was one of nearly 200 former government officials charged with corruption by the interim military government of former-President Iajuddin Ahmed. In April, prosecutors dropped [JURIST report] some of the corruption charges against current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [official profile]. Hasina served as prime minister from 1996-2001 and was re-elected in December after Ahmed lifted the state of emergency [JURIST report]. In May 2008, Hasina was indicted [JURIST report] after the ACC accused her of receiving about $440,000 in illegal kickbacks from a power-plant deal during her prior tenure as prime minister, accusations which she denies [JURIST report]. Bangladesh's anti-corruption crackdown began after the declaration of emergency 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 [JURIST reports].

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