Former Bangladesh PM Hasina Faces Graft Case

August 31, 2003 - 0:0
DHAKA -- Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina appeared in court in Dhaka on Saturday charged with involvement in a third corruption case, court officials said.

Hasina, who ran the country as head of the Awami League political party for five years until an election loss in 2001, has been charged with overspending public money when Bangladesh bought a $100 million frigate from South Korea.

She already faces two other corruption cases filed after she lost power, including one relating to the purchase of Mig-29 fighter aircraft from Russia.

The latest charge was laid in court earlier this month by the Bangladesh Bureau of Anti-Corruption while Hasina, who still leads the Awami League in opposition, was in the United States on a private visit, Reuters reported.

The politician returned to Bangladesh voluntarily and her lawyer, Shahera Khatoon, said the court released her on Saturday on bail of 100,000 taka ($1,712).

Hundreds of chanting supporters gathered outside the court for the hearing and Hasina told them afterwards she would see the case through.

"We respect the law and so we don't hesitate to appear before the court even on a fictitious charge," she said.

The frigate, delivered by South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co in June 2001, was the Bangladesh Navy's fifth. Four former navy officials and a businessman also face charges related to the frigate purchase. They were released on bail when they appeared in court earlier this month. Separate trials in all the graft cases would begin soon, court officials said. (US$1=58.41)