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Bangladesh: Khaleda Zia goes on trial on charges of graft

Dhaka: A Dhaka court Monday started the trial of former prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia on corruption charges in her absence.

Zia has been charged with embezzlement in two cases that could lead to sentencing for life if found guilty, the Daily Star reported.

Judge Bashudeb Roy of Special Judge’s Court-3 began the trial with recording deposition of plaintiff Harun-ur-Rashid, deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Earlier in the day, the court accepted two separate petitions filed by defence seeking Khaleda’s exemption from appearing before the court for security reasons.

On March 19, the judge indicted Zia, her son and BNP's senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, and seven others in the cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

The ACC accused them of embezzlement by forming the Zia Orphanage Trust that exists only on paper.

The complainant alleged that a grant of $1,255,000 was transferred from the United Saudi Commercial Bank to the Prime Minister's Orphanage Fund created by Zia, who was then the prime minister, shortly before the transfer was made June 9, 1991.

The second case is against Khaleda and three others who abused power to set up a charitable trust named after former president and Zia's husband, late Ziaur Rahman.

The ACC said that the money spent for establishing the trust was collected from various sources, using the influence of the office of prime minister in 2005.

Khaleda Zia was the prime minister of Bangladesh thrice.

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