Bangladesh's Home Minister Faces Court On Graft Charges
A Bangladeshi court Wednesday stayed the proceedings of four corruption cases against Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury for two months, his lawyer said.
Chowdhury appeared in court before Judge Shahidur Rahman and sought permission that he be allowed to be represented in court by his lawyer due to his political commitments, defense lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder told AFP.
The request was granted Wednesday by Rahman and the proceedings were stayed for two months, Talukder said.
Chowdhury became home minister in October after his party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and its allies scored a landslide general election victory.
The charges against Chowdhury, first filed in 1997 by the previous Awami League government, relate to when he was chief of the air force from 1993 to 1995 before he joined the BNP.
They include alleged illegal use of defence helicopters to travel within Bangladesh and funding projects in his home constituency from an air force fund.
"The case was filed with an ill political motive and as far as air force manuals are concerned there was nothing illegal," Talukder said after the court hearing.
One of several graft charges against current Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was quashed by the High Court one week after she took charge on October 10, while others are still pending.
The quashed case related to illegally decorating her private residence with government funds when the BNP was previously in power between 1991 and 1996.
Newspaper reports have said that Zia's government is preparing graft charges against Sheikh Hasina and 20 of her ministers -- AFP
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