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Court deems Hasina trial unlawful

world Updated: Feb 08, 2008 11:14 IST
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Bangladesh’s High Court ruled on Wednesday that an ongoing corruption trial of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina under emergency rules was unlawful.

The court issued the ruling after an appeal from Hasina challenging the legality of a trial under emergency rules for a crime allegedly committed before the imposition of the emergency, lawyers and court officials said.

Within hours, the army-backed interim government filed a counter appeal to the Supreme Court seeking a stay or reversal of the High court decision. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the appeal on Thursday, court officials said.

A special court has been prosecuting Hasina and her cousin, former minister Sheikh Selim, for allegedly taking 30 million taka ($440,000) from a businessman when Hasina was in power between 1996 and 2001. Hasina and Selim deny the charges.

"The law has prevailed and the High Court has also cancelled the case against Sheikh Hasina," Hasina's lawyer Rafiqul Haque told reporters.

Political observers see the ruling as a big blow to the government and said all or most charges being heard or likely to be heard under emergency rules could be transferred to civil courts if the Supreme Court upholds Wednesday's ruling.