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3 former ministers sentenced by Bangla courts

world Updated: Jul 27, 2007 04:20 IST

Bangladesh courts ordered on Thursday three former ministers to be jailed for up to 31 years, including one convicted of abetting attacks by Islamist militants.

Aminul Haque, the post and telecommunications minister in the government of most recent prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, is the highest ranking government official sentenced for links with militants.

"The court has sentenced the former minister, as it was proved that he helped Islamists thrive," a registrar at a court in the northwestern city of Rajshahi said.

Aminul was tried and sentenced in absentia after he failed to respond to court summons following a nationwide crackdown on corruption and abuse of power launched by the country's army-backed interim administration in January.

Bangladesh suffered a series of bomb attacks in 2005 which authorities said were carried out by Islamist militant groups as part of their campaign to force sharia law in the mainly Muslim country.

The violence has since eased after the heads of two militant groups were arrested and executed following their conviction in the attacks.

Another former state minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir was handed 13 years in prison for amassing wealth illegally by a special Dhaka court.

Alamgir, who served in the government of Khaleda's rival Sheikh Hasina, was also asked to pay a fine of one million taka ($14,580) or face an additional year in prison.

Alamgir was arrested in March in the anti-corruption drive.

More than 170 key political figures including including former prime minister Hasina have been detained in the anti-corruption crackdown aimed at cleaning up politics before elections, which are expected late next year.

Khaleda's elder son and political heir Tareque Rahman is among the detainees.

Another court at northwestern Natore town sentenced former deputy land administration minister Ruhul Quddus Talukdar Dulu, to eight years in prison for arson and violence.