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Murder charges against Bangladeshi PM dropped: official

Murder charges against Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which were filed under the last government, were dropped on Monday, a state prosecutor said.

world Updated: Aug 17, 2009 15:22 IST

Murder charges against Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which were filed under the last government, were dropped on Monday, a state prosecutor said.

Hasina, along with 45 others, was charged with the murder of four people who died during a period of violent political street protests in October 2006.

"It was a politically motivated case and has now been dropped," state prosecutor Abdullah Abu said, adding that charges against the 45 others accused in the case had also been dropped.

"Hasina and others who were accused of murder were not even at the spot when the incident took place. There were no eyewitnesses. The charges were aimed at harassing her," Abu added.

The murder charge was filed by the army-backed authorities, which were in power from January 2007 for two years and stepped in to take control after months of street violence between rival political supporters.

The murder charge was laid in April 2007, while Hasina, 61, was abroad. She returned to Bangladesh later that year and was jailed by the army regime soon after.

At one time she faced a dozen or so charges, mainly of corruption, but several have been dropped since she came to power after winning a landslide election in December 2008.

Hasina and her rival, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia, were both released as part of a deal with the outgoing authorities so that she could run in the elections.

Hasina still faces a handful of corruption charges. These are also expected to be dropped, officials say.