Bangladeshi ex-PM gets bail in graft case

Dhaka, Nov 30 (IANS) A court here on Monday granted bail to former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia in a case filed by the anti-graft body.

Judge Aminul Islam gave the bail after Zia surrendered before the Special Judge’s Court. She has been accused of awarding a contract to a foreign firm causing huge loss to the exchequer, reports Xinhua news agency.

On June 18, a High Court division bench cleared the way for the trial proceedings to resume and ordered Zia, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to surrender before the trial court within two months.

When Zia’s motorcade reached the court premises, thousands of BNP members had gathered to welcome her.

Sanaullah Miah, a counsel for Zia, said December 28 had been fixed as the next date for hearing the case which was stuck for the last seven years until Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) moved to revive it earlier this year.

ACC filed the Niko graft case in 2007 after the BNP chief was arrested by the then military-backed caretaker government.

A total of 11 people, including Zia, were charged on May 5, 2008 for allegedly causing a loss of $1.76 billion to the exchequer by awarding gas exploration job to a Canadian company.

Zia earlier said political vendetta was to blame for the cases against her and her sons.

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