Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia [Forbes backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and other members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were indicted Wednesday on two corruption charges. Zia and three the other BNP officials have been accused of embezzling funds [BBC report] from a charitable trust named after Zia's deceased husband, former president Ziaur Rahman [NYT obituary]. In a second corruption allegation, Zia, her son Tarique Rahman [official website], the Senior Vice-Chairperson of the BNP, and three others are accused of embezzling funds from an orphanage named after Zia's late husband. Both Zia and her son were previously indicted [JURIST report] on corruption charges in 2011 when the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute] accused the pair of taking USD $1.05 million in donations from a charity also named after Zia's late husband. Zia has alleged that the indictments are politically motivated. The court in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka has set April 21 as the start date for the trial.
The political situation in Bangladesh has been tense in recent months following BNP's boycott of January elections that were marked [Al Jazeera report] by considerable violence and returned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [official website] to power. Last month a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya party [party website, in Bengali] was indicted [JURIST report] by a Dhaka tribunal for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [Bangladesh News backgrounder] with Pakistan. Also in February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued a statement [JURIST report] demanding that the Bangladesh government do more to prevent garment factory owners from intimidating workers for organizing trade unions and to prosecute any parties responsible for attacks on labor leaders.