Top Bangladesh leaders charged with murder
Apr 11, 2007 - 9:35:28 PM

Dhaka, April 11 - Police in Bangladesh Wednesday charged top leaders of the Awami League - and Jamaat-e-Islami - with killing six political activists at a rally last year.

The name of AL chief and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina does not figure in the charge sheet - filed on a complaint filed by JEI - against 45 leaders of the 14-party alliance she leads.

However, JEI's Amir, the supreme leader and a former minister, Motiur Rahman Nizami and 10 top brass have been charge-sheeted for violence at the rally Oct 28 on the basis of another complaint made by the Workers' Party, a constituent of the 14-party combine, Star Online said Wednesday evening.

The caretaker government's move, coming amid fast-moving developments, uses complaints of one party to implicate workers of rival parties, adding a new twist to its current drive against crime and corruption and places on alert leaders of all political parties, political analysts said.

There has been speculation in political circles and media, despite curbs on both with a national emergency in force, that the government was moving to 'force' Sheikh Hasina and her rival and another former premier Begum Khaleda Zia to leave the country.

However, Zia, who was to have left Wednesday to perform Umra in Saudi Arabia, decided to stay back and Hasina is cutting short her US visit to return Saturday after being charged with extortion in a different case.

The government's drive covers all major political shades in Bangladesh.

Nizami's being charge-sheeted is the first for the JEI, coalition partner of Zia that, according to observers, had not been implicated so far.

Another Zia government minister and top JEI leader Ali Ahsan Mujahid also figures in the list of those charged.

While Zia's politician son Tareq Rahman is already behind the bars and is being prosecuted, this is the first time that Hasina herself has been accused of personally receiving extortion money.

Media reports suggested that Zia initially wanted to bargain that she would quit the country if her entire family, including Tareq, were also allowed to leave with her. But she was supposed to have 'agreed' to leave.

Her decision not to leave the country remains unexplained. According to New Age newspaper, her movements and access to visitors are 'restricted'. Among the few who can meet her are her brother, former army major Mohammed Iskander, sister-in-law Nasrin Iskander, bureaucrat-turned BNP leader Musfiqur Rahman and her personal physician colonel - Mahtabul Islam.

Quoting sources in the investigating agencies and courts, Star Online said that Hasina and 21 other leaders, whose names surfaced in the charge sheet, were not originally included in the FIR or police complaint while the names of 16 people, including AL leaders Abdur Razzak and Tofail Ahmed, were dropped from the chargesheet.

Among others, AL general secretary Abdul Jalil, Mohammad Nasim, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, H.B.M. Iqbal and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal - president Hasanul Haque Inu have been included in the charge sheet of the case filed by Jamaat.

Apart from Nizami, Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mujahid and Hemayet Uddin are among the 10 Jamaat leaders included in the charge sheet.

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