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Bangladesh ex-PM and opposition leader charged with corruption

Former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and her son, Tarique Rahman [BBC profile], were charged with corruption Monday over alleged inappropriate donations. The Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute] brought the charges [AFP report] in connection with USD $1.05 million in donations to a charity named after her late husband Zia Rahman. The charges allege that Zia used her position as prime minister to force people to make donations to the charity. Zia and her son have faced multiple sets of corruption charges under the current government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [BBC profile]. In July 2010, the ACC charged ZIa and her son with corruption for allegedly laundering three million dollars [JURIST report] through bank accounts in Singapore. Also in 2009, Zia, her son and the Bangladesh Awami League [party website] faced a trial on accusations of embezzling over $305,000 in the Zia Orphanage Trust, which is said to be nonexistent.

The multiple sets of charges against Zia and her son are part of a political joust between the opposition leader and Hasina. In May 2010, a court dropped corruption charges [JURIST report] against Hasina holding that she had not committed a criminal offense when she used government funds to to appoint US lobbyists to represent the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority [official website] during her 1996-2001 administration. All the cases were brought against Hasina between 2001 and 2008 when she was out of power. Since being sworn into office after her reelection [JURIST report] in December 2008 each charge has either been redacted by the accuser or quashed by the court. Supporters of Hasina claim that the charges filed against her were politically motivated by Zia, the leader of the military-backed regime displaced by Hasina. In April 2009, Bangladeshi judges explicitly dismissed two cases against Hasina on grounds that they were filed to harass her [JURIST report].

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