Bangladesh orders arrest of Islamist party chief

DHAKA Thu May 15, 2008 3:58pm IST

Moulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami,  speaks in Dhaka in this June 3, 2006 file photo. A Bangladesh court issued an order on Thursday to arrest Nizami and five other former ministers on graft charges, officials said on Thursday. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman/Files

Moulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami, speaks in Dhaka in this June 3, 2006 file photo. A Bangladesh court issued an order on Thursday to arrest Nizami and five other former ministers on graft charges, officials said on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Rafiqur Rahman/Files

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DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladesh court issued an order on Thursday to arrest the chief of the country's biggest Islamist party and five other former ministers on graft charges, officials said on Thursday.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Moulana Matiur Rahman Nizami was industry minister in the government of detained former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia during 2001-06, when his party was the largest coalition partner of her Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

"The order was issued after the Anti-Corruption Commission filed charges against them on Tuesday," an official of the Dhaka Metropolitan Judge's Court said.

They were charged in a case involving Khaleda, her detained younger son, Arafat Rahman, and 12 others in alleged corruption in the awarding of container a handling contract to a local firm in 2003.

Khaleda and Arafat were arrested in September last year after the ACC filed a case with police, while her elder son, Tareque Rahman, was detained in March 2007 for extortion.

A leading member of Jamaat-e-Islami said the party was aware of the order, but declined to comment further.

The army-backed interim government, which took power in January 2007 following deadly political violence, has arrested more than 170 key political figures, including Khaleda's rival former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for alleged corruption and misuse of power.

Nearly 50 of them have so far been convicted and sentenced to various prison terms.

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