Bangladesh politician delays return

Sheikh Hasina, head of Awami League, has been charged with murder of four people.

    At least 35 people died during political violence between October and January [AFP]
    Telephone request
     
    "She delayed the comeback after a top-ranking government official contacted me and Sheikh Hasina by telephone and requested her not to change her tour schedule," Jalil said late on Wednesday.
     
    "They assured us that they would take steps to ensure that her  honour and image would not be harmed."
     
    "That's why our leader has postponed her return to the country  for the time being. Her date of return has not been fixed yet."
     
    Hearing date
     
    Earlier on Wednesday, Shahidul Haq Bhuiyan, deputy police commissioner, said the case against Hasina would be heard on April 22.
     
    He said: "Detective branch police submitted the charge-sheet of the case to a Dhaka court today after carrying out investigations and taking evidence."

    The four alleged victims were beaten to death during clashes between the Awami League and Jamaat-e-Islami party activists.
     
    At least 35 people were killed during the unrest between October 28  and January 11.

    The deputy police commissioner did not give details of the exact role Hasina has been accused of playing in the murders.

    Extortion allegations

    The murder charge came after Hasina, who served as prime minister between 1996 and 2001, was accused on Monday of extorting 30m taka ($434,000) while in office.

    Hasina's press secretary had said the opposition leader planned to cut short her visit to the US and return home on April 14 to fight the extortion allegations.

    Murder charges have also been brought against 55 other political figures, including the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, which was part of the four-party coalition government which handed over power last October in preparation for elections.

    The parliamentary polls, planned for January, were cancelled after months of political turmoil over allegations of poll-rigging and the country was placed under emergency rule.

    Zia restrictions

    The murder charges were announced as Bangladesh's military-backed caretaker government severely curtailed the freedom of Khaleda Zia, the former prime minister who stood aside in October. 

    "The intelligence department sent the order to the guards at Zia's house that only four people could meet her from now on," the former prime minister's acting secretary said.
      
    "They are her two brothers, a personal physician and an ex-member of parliament."

    The secretary said he did not know if Zia's movements had also been restricted.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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