Clashes as Bangladesh opposition leader faces trial


DHAKA: Bangladeshi police fired rubber bullets and tear gas on Wednesday as they clashed with hundreds of activists outside a Dhaka court where the opposition leader is facing trial for corruption.

Police said up to 1,500 supporters turned out as Khaleda Zia, who served two turns as Bangladesh’s prime minister, appeared in court seeking to have her case postponed.

“We secured the court premises for security and barred unwarranted people, but her supporters got angry and threw stones at police, forcing us to retaliate,” additional commissioner of police Mehedi Hasan told AFP.

Hasan said police beat the protesters with batons and fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.

“Four of our officers were injured in the incident,” he said, adding he could not say whether there were any casualties among the protesters.

A photographer was also hurt during the clashes, private television station Channel 24 said.

Zia, the head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is seeking to have two corruption cases against her postponed because the country’s highest court is hearing appeals against the legality of the charges.

She and eight of her aides are accused of embezzling more than $600,000 meant for orphans and a charitable trust during her second term as prime minister in 2001-6.

The case were filed by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog in 2008 and 2011. Zia’s elder son Tarique Rahman is also among the accused in one of the cases.

Her lawyers say the cases are politically motivated and aimed at keeping Zia and Rahman, her heir apparent in the party, out of politics by her bitter rival, the current prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain said the court has set September 10 for the next hearing.



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