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Iran Press TV

Court in Bangladesh upholds arrest warrant for former prime minister

Iran Press TV

Wed Mar 4, 2015 5:59PM

A court in Bangladesh has upheld the arrest warrant for the country's opposition leader and former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, in graft cases.

Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadder, from a special anti-corruption court in the capital, Dhaka, said on Wednesday that the February 25 order on Zia's arrest will remain effective.

The court had ordered Zia's arrest late last month after she repeatedly failed to appear for the hearings.

Zia's lawyers and aides have said that the former premier will surrender in court only if she is given enough security and assurances.

"We respect the law. She (Zia) is willing to go to court if she has to... but she will go to court if she is given adequate security and an assurance that she will be allowed to return to her office," media outlets quoted Zia's chief counsel, Khandker Mahbub Hossain, as saying.

The court has fixed April 5 for the next hearing in the corruption cases.

The former premier says the embezzlement charges are politically motivated, aimed at destroying her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Zia, who is accused in two corruption cases of embezzling USD 650,000 during her tenure as premier in 2001-2006, could face a life sentence if found guilty.

Bangladeshi authorities have recently put more pressure on the 69-year-old, who has been confined in her office at the opposition headquarters in Dhaka since January 3.

On January 6, Zia called for a nationwide transport blockade as part of efforts to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and pave the way for new elections.

Hasina, who was re-elected in January 5, 2014 polls, has warned Zia of "dire consequences" if the protests carry on. The elections had been boycotted by the opposition.

At least 100 people have been killed, a large number of cars and buses have been set ablaze or damaged, and several trains have been derailed since the start of the blockade and the ensuing clashes between opposition supporters and police forces.

JR/HSN/SS



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