UPDATE 1-Bangladesh's ex-PM Khaleda taken to court for graft

Sun Jun 1, 2008 3:57pm IST

Stocks

   

(adds Khaleda comments)

DHAKA, June 1 (Reuters) - Former Bangladesh prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia was taken to a court on Sunday to face a graft charge involving a Canadian oil exploration firm, officials said.

Security was tightened around the makeshift court in the sprawling parliament compound for her first appearance since her arrest in September last year.

"The former prime minister was produced before a judge as the court was preparing to start formal prosecution against her," a court official said.

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) filed charges against Khaleda in December for failing to recover millions of dollars in compensation for environmental damage caused by fire at a drilling site in northeastern Bangladesh in 2005.

The fire occurred due to wrong handling of equipment by experts from Canadian company Niko Resources Ltd (NKO.TO), ACC officials said.

Khaleda was prime minister from 2001 to 2006.

The ACC also filed a similar case against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Niko representatives were not immediately available in Dhaka for comment. In December, a company an official told Reuters in Calgary, Canada, that the firm had not operated unethically in Bangladesh.

Khaleda and Hasina have been held in separate buildings in the parliament compound since their arrest last year.

"These are false charges and have been brought to malign my political career," Khaleda told lawyers and reporters during a short break in the court hearing.

She said the army-backed interim government was trying to perpetuate its authority illegally.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January last year when the interim government took charge following months of political violence.

"The state of emergency should go by the end this month (June) and the election should be held in October," she said.

The interim government has pledged parliamentary election by the third week of December.

More than 170 leading politicians, including dozens of ex-ministers, have been detained in an anti-corruption drive. Nearly 50 of them have been convicted. (Reporting by Nizam Ahmed; Editing by Valerie Lee)

Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Earnings Season

Reuters Showcase

Obama In India

Obama In India

In parting shot, Obama prods India on religious freedom.  Full Article 

Market Rally

Market Rally

Sensex, Nifty hit record high for fifth straight session.  Full Article 

Restructuring

Restructuring

Max India to be split into three separate companies.  Full Article 

India’s Male Tenor

India’s Male Tenor

India’s lone male tenor wants to ‘Indianise’ opera  Full Article 

Indian Equities

Indian Equities

Hornbill raising $250 mln to invest in equities - partner.  Full Article 

Ratings Downgrade

Ratings Downgrade

S&P downgrades Russia's sovereign credit rating to "junk".  Full Article 

Facebook Outage

Facebook Outage

Facebook takes blame for service outages, which hit wider Web.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage