Hasina barred from returning to Bangladesh
Apr 22, 2007 - 11:19:05 PM

London/Dhaka, April 22 - Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina was Sunday evening denied the boarding pass by British Airways for flying from London to Dhaka, effectively preventing her return home.

The airlines authorities told Hasina that they could not take her in their flight, as the Bangladesh government had requested them not to carry her to Dhaka, Star Online said quoting sources in the UK.

What finally worked was the threat the Bangladesh government issued to the British airliner saying 'if they carry her, the government would not let the flight of the internationally renowned airlines to land in Dhaka', the sources added.

British Airways is one of the few airlines flying to and from Bangladesh, catering to a large number of passengers who work in Europe or are settled there.

BA authorities informed Hasina of the reasons why they could not fly her.

Meanwhile, two British MPs were assisting the former Bangladesh premier at the airport in getting airline's permission.

British lawmaker Emily Thornbery told Hasina that she would discuss the issue with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and also will raise it in parliament.

The former prime minister accompanied by her younger sister Sheikh Rehana and a number of leaders and workers from the UK unit of her Awami League - arrived at the Heathrow airport at around 7.15 p.m. Bangladesh time.

At the airport, the AL chief talked to the waiting journalists and termed the murder charge slapped on her for killing of six political activists at a Dhaka rally Oct 28 as 'false and fabricated'.

Earlier in the day, a Dhaka court issued a warrant against Hasina and two other Awami League leaders on basis of this charge.

Hasina said she would face the case after returning home. 'I am ready to brace any kinds of consequences in the country. I want to be back with my people,' sources quoted Haskin as saying.

Her immediate plans were not known. She said she would not seek political asylum in the US or the UK.

This is Hasina's second exile. She was in Germany with her family when her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then Bangladesh president, was assassinated in a military-led coup on Aug 15, 1975. She moved to India and lived in New Delhi under tight security for nearly six years.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government's plans to send another former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, into exile received a serious setback when the Dhaka High Court asked the government to explain within five days if she was interned at home.

Responding to a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Zia, a division bench of the court issued a rule upon the government to explain within five days why she should not be brought before the court 'to satisfy that she is not interned in her Dhaka cantonment residence', Star Online reported.

The bench comprising Justices M.A. Wahhab Mian and Emdadul Haque gave the ruling as the government side 'apparently could not satisfy' the court that Zia was not house-confined.

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