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Polls will not be fair: Khaleda Zia

Former Bangladesh premier Khaleda Zia on Wednesday accused the government of attempting to hold "farcical" elections.

world Updated: Jun 04, 2008 21:40 IST


Former Bangladesh premier Khaleda Zia on Wednesday accused the government of attempting to hold "farcical" elections as she appeared at a pre-trial hearing for corruption charges, her lawyer said.

The two-time former prime minister has been accused of illegally awarding a container depot handling contract to a local company, which resulted in multi-million-dollar losses to the government.

"She appeared in a pre-trial hearing as the defence and state prosecutors needed to examine the documents of the case," Zia's lawyer Nasiruddin Wasim told AFP.

"It will lead to whether the court would formally frame charges against her or not."

Zia denied the charges against her, alleging that the government was trying to sideline all the political leaders in a bid to hold rigged polls and create a rubber stamp parliament, he said.

"The judiciary does not have any independence. Political leaders have been handed out sentences to pave the way for holding farcical polls. The government wants to sideline all the leaders this way," Zia was quoted as saying.

Zia was the last elected prime minister of the country and leads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

She was arrested last September as part of the current military-backed government's corruption crackdown. She remains under investigation over another case.

During her court appearance on Wednesday, Zia also demanded the withdrawal of the state of emergency to ensure she gets a fair trial.

Her son Arafat Rahman and 11 others, including several top ex-ministers, have also been accused in the case.