DHAKA: Bangladesh’s top court on Monday cleared the way for former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s trial on graft charges for granting contracts that cost more than $1.5 million during her tenure, officials said.
A four-member Supreme Court panel headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha dismissed Zia’s appeal to scrap the corruption case, filed by the country’s anti-graft agency in 2007, prosecution lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said.
Zia, also the head of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and 12 others were accused of violation of government rules to award two contracts to a private business for container handling at inland depots in the capital, Dhaka, and the port city of Chittagong.
She was in office as prime minister between 2001 and 2006.
By granting the contracts to Global Agro Trade Company Limited, a private farm, the accused caused losses of more than 145.63 million taka ($1.79 million) to the public exchequer, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) alleged.
She was arrested a day after the case was filed on September 2, 2007, when Bangladesh was being ruled by a military-backed government in the aftermath of political turmoil.
She was later granted bail and challenged the legality of the charges brought against her, requesting the High Court to stop the proceedings. The High Court rejected Zia’s plea in August 2016. — dpa