[JURIST] A court in Bangladesh issued an arrest warrant for former prime minister Khaleda Zia [BNP profile] in connection with the firebombing of a bus [Al Jazeera report] orchestrated against the government last year. In addition to Zia, the court issued warrants [Al Jazeera report] for 27 others who are involved with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] suspected to have been involved with the attack. Zia’s lawyers claim the arrest order is politically motivated.
In January Zia was ordered to appear in court [JURIST report] following charges of sedition. Zia was granted bail last April after surrendering to the court in Dhaka. The leader of the opposition BNP, Zia had been voluntarily confined [BBC report] to her office since January of last year. She faces charges of embezzling money stemming from two corruption cases between 2001 and 2006. The trial began in 2014, and an arrest warrant [JURIST reports] was issued in February of last year when she failed to appear in court. In May 2008 Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [official website] filed formal charges against Zia for an alleged kickback scheme that awarded lucrative gas contracts to Canadian oil company Niko Resources Ltd [corporate website]. The ACC charged Zia’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 Zia’s deceased husband. Bangladesh’s High Court ruled Zia must stand trial [JURIST report] on corruption charges last April. In February of last year, an arrest warrant was issued [JURIST report] for Zia again when she and 55 other people were charged for instigating an arson attack on a bus.