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Sheikh Hasina acquitted in graft case

world Updated: Jan 05, 2009 20:15 IST

IANS
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A day before being sworn in Bangladesh's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina was acquitted by a Dhaka court in a graft case instituted against her by the outgoing caretaker government.

The businessman who had filed the complaint indicated that he had been pressurised and that the "incident was undesired and unexpected for me".

This is the second such case. Azam Chowdhury, another businessman, had also lodged a complaint of extortion, but insisted that he had not mentioned Hasina's name. It was added to the charge sheet later.

Hasina had six cases against her, including a murder charge.

Both Hasina and her political rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, were charged with corruption and were jailed for several months. They had denied the charges, saying these were "politically motivated" to get them convicted and kept out of the election.

However, while the trials were still on, the elections were announced. They were bailed out. Both contested last Monday's poll in which Hasina won a massive majority, trouncing Zia.

The court of Metropolitan Magistrate Tania Kamal delivered the order after the officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Police Station Lutfor Rahman submitted the final report of the case, The Daily Star said.

Hasina, who had been prime minister during 1996-2001, was charged with extorting Taka 30 million ($50,000) in 1998 from Tajul Islam Farook, chairman of Westmont Power Co (Bangladesh) Ltd. before clearing the purchase of power plants to be mounted on barges.

Farook had also accused her of "abuse of power".

However, Farook told the media Monday: "Because of some misunderstanding in early 2007, I had to file the case against Sheikh Hasina, daughter of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The incident was undesired and unexpected for me."