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Bangladesh ex-PM Zia facing October corruption trial

[JURIST] Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile; JURIST news archive] and her son, Tarique Rahman [BBC profile], will face court proceedings [Reuters report] on corruption charges starting in October, officials from the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court said Monday. Zia, the head of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party [party website], her son, and four others are accused [Xinhua report] of embezzling over 21 million taka (US $305,000) in the Zia Orphanage Trust which is said to be nonexistent. The case was originally filed [Daily Star report] in August by the country's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute], which had previously sought to lay other corruption charges [JURIST report] against Zia. The latest charges are the first to be filed against a high-profile Bangladeshi politician since current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [AP profile] and many members of her Bangladesh Awami League [party website] were elected [JURIST report] in December, displacing a military-backed regime.

In May, Morshed Khan, who served as Zia's foreign minister, began serving [JURIST report] a 13-year sentence for illegally amassing nearly $250,000. Khan initially fled the country following the January 2007 state of emergency declaration [JURIST report] that suspended democratic rights in Bangladesh. Three other Zia officials were jailed [JURIST report] in November. Zia herself was taken into custody [JURIST report] on suspicion of corruption in September 2007.

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