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Bangladesh puts leaders in police remand

world Updated: May 30, 2007 13:56 IST
Reuters
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A Bangladesh court remanded a senior politician, a former junior minister and a top businessman to police for interrogation on corruption charges, officials said on Wednesday.

They are Awami League party General Secretary Abdul Jalil, former junior home affairs minister Lutfuzzaman Babar, and businessman MA Hashem.

"Police sought a seven-day remand, but the court granted only for four days," a registrar of the court said.

The court also sent to jail on 30-day detention orders retired air vice-marshal Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, who was a former home minister in the government of ex-prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, and two other junior ministers, including one in the government of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

They were arrested in a fresh corruption sweep by the army-backed interim government, which has pledged to hold a free and fair election by the end of 2008 after reforming the country's notoriously corrupt politics.

Mainul Husein, interim head of the law and information ministries, said late on Tuesday that not all of the detainees were thought to be corrupt.

"But they might give some clues to busting corruption done by their colleagues," Mainul told reporters.

"We have to oust corrupt leaders and black (untaxed) money holders from politics, so that we can hold a credible, election for which we have been mandated."

The interim government headed by former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed took charge on January 11 after imposing a state of emergency following deadly political violence.

Since January, more than 170 people, including former ministers of the governments of Hasina and Khaleda, have been detained. The authorities have also launched a speedy trial process to prosecute detained politicians and officials.

Intelligence sources said the drive by the army-backed interim government will continue and more people might be caught in the dragnet.

Sheikh Hasina blasted the interim government for the arrests and said the campaign was intended to divert public attention from its failures.

"The government has totally failed to control the price hike of commodities, and to cover their failure they are now arresting political leaders," she told reporters after visiting her ailing aunt in hospital.

"It's as if they are not fighting the corruption, but out to destroy politicians."

Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which observed on Wednesday the 26th death anniversary of its founder, the late President Ziaur Rahman, had no immediate reaction to the arrests and has been generally keeping a low profile.

Ziaur Rahman, Khaleda's father, was killed in an abortive military coup in 1981.

"Let us observe the day first, we will give our reaction soon," a senior party leader said.

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