Bangladesh High Court asks former PM Zia to appear in court

AP News
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Posted: Aug 05, 2015 10:01 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh's High Court on Wednesday asked former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to appear in court in two months to face corruption charges involving the construction of two cargo terminals while she was in office.

The panel of two judges made the decision in response to a petition by Zia seeking cancellation of the trial proceedings.

The ruling means the trial will proceed unless it is reviewed. Zia's lawyers said after the ruling that they would make an appeal.

Zia is accused of awarding the construction contracts to a local company, Global Agro Trade Company, without following standard procedures while she was prime minister in 2001-2006. Zia says she is innocent.

Twelve others including Zia's younger son and the chief of the country's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, Matiur Rahman Nizami are among the accused.

Zia's son, Arafat Rahman Coco, died earlier this year while Nizami, a senior minister in Zia's Cabinet, is behind bars. According to the complaint, Coco allegedly influenced his mother to approve the deal for the terminals, one in Dhaka's Kamlapur Railway Station and another in the country's main Chittagong seaport.

The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case against Zia and others in 2007 when the country had a military-backed caretaker government.

Zia is the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted the 2014 election, letting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina return to power without any challenge.

Zia had demanded a neutral administration govern while the election was held, but Hasina refused.