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Former Bangladesh PM ordered to appear in court following sedition charges

[JURIST] Former Bangladesh prime minster Khaleda Zia [BNP profile] was ordered to appear in court following charges of sedition on Monday. The suit against Zia was filed [Reuters report] by Momtaz Uddin Ahmad Mehdi, a lawyer with the Bangladesh Supreme Court [official website] and a supporter of the ruling Awami League. He said that the comment Zia made concerning the controversy over number of those killed during the war of 1971 was seditious. He commented that her words hurt him "as a patriot" and that he was obligated as a citizen to bring the suit. Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir [profile], acting secretary general of the BNP, dismissed the case as politically motivated.

Khaleda was granted bail in April after surrendering to the court in Dhaka. The leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [official website], Khaleda had been voluntarily confined [BBC report] to her office since January 5. She faces charges of embezzling money stemming from two corruption cases between 2001 and 2006. The trial began in 2014 [JURIST report], and an arrest warrant [JURIST report] was issued in February when she failed to appear in court. In May 2008 Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [official website] filed [JURIST report] formal charges against Khaleda for an alleged kickback scheme that awarded lucrative gas contracts to Canadian oil company Niko Resources Ltd [corporate website]. The ACC charged Khaleda's eldest son [JURIST report] with corruption in July 2010 for allegedly laundering USD $3 million through bank accounts in Singapore. In March 2014 the former prime minister and other members of the BNP were indicted [JURIST report] on two corruption charges, accused of embezzling funds from a charitable trust named after Khaleda's deceased husband. Bangladesh's High Court ruled Khaleda must stand trial [JURIST report] on corruption charges last April. In February, an arrest warrant was issued [JURIST report] for Khaleda again when she and 55 other people were charged for instigating an arson attack on a bus.

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