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Court bars ex-PM Hasina from going abroad

A court in Bangladesh has barred former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from leaving the country.

world Updated: Jun 14, 2007 17:18 IST

A court in Bangladesh has barred former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from leaving the country, police said on Thursday, just two months after she was briefly banned from returning home.



The court ordered Dhaka airport's immigration authority not to allow Hasina, who has been charged with extortion, to leave for the United States via London on Friday night.


Hasina's close associates said she had been planning to visit her son and daughter and their families in the United States.



"The court order came after police had sought legal intervention to prevent Hasina from flying out, because her presence in the country was essential for investigation of a series of extortion charges against her," said a court registrar.



In April Bangladesh's army-backed interim government, which is conducting a massive anti-corruption hunt to prepare for a free and fair election, barred Hasina from returning from an earlier visit to the United States.


She was stranded in London for about two weeks, before local and international pressure forced Dhaka to lift the ban.



Hasina returned to a warm welcome from thousands of members and supporters of her Awami League, who thronged the airport gates and roads leading to her home, defying a ban on gatherings under a state of emergency in force since Jan. 11.



DISASTER ZONE TRIP BLOCKED

On Thursday, police blocked a planned trip by Hasina to the port city of Chittagong to visit survivors of landslides that have killed at least 122 people and injured about 100.
"As the country is under a state of emergency and all sorts of politics are banned, we have asked Hasina not to go to Chittagong," a senior police officer said.

Hasina branded the Chittagong ban as "inhuman, undemocratic, unconstitutional and against the freedom of individual".

Police filed two new cases against Hasina on Wednesday for extorting some 70 million taka ($1 million) from two businessman.

The government headed by former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed has run Bangladesh since January under emergency rules. It postponed an election planned for Jan. 22 and banned all political activity following weeks of political violence.

Hasina and her rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, the most recent prime minister and head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), blamed each other for the violence.
Army-led security forces have detained more than 170 senior leaders of the BNP and Awami League since the anti-corruption drive began in January, and many more are on the run.

They include Khaleda's elder son and political heir apparent, Tareque Rahman, and over a dozen former ministers.

Khaleda and 12 others, including Tareque, were charged on Tuesday for violating business laws, while both former prime ministers are facing murder charges relating to deaths in the street violence of last year.

Hasina and Khaleda have rejected all the allegations against them as politically motivated and false.