Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday criticised main opposition leader Khaleda Zia for repeatedly seeking time from court appearance in graft cases, saying the former premier lacks courage to face the courts.
“This lady just cannot face the courts. And that is because she is involved in corruption,” Hasina said at an event to the mark the 47th anniversary of Awami League’s labour wing. Hasina said her government is being blamed for pursuing ‘false cases’.
“Let the courts decide, if the cases are false or genuine,” she was quoted as saying by bdnews24.com.
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She said Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Zia lacked the courage to face the court as she was guilty deep down.
“They always claim that they had been sued in false cases. Which one of these is a false case here? Did they not burn people? The workers are the ones who face the horror of such attacks,” Hasina said, referring to the deaths of 17 people in labour movements when the BNP was in power.
Zia, 71, and Hasina, 69, are known as the ‘Battling Begums’ for their bitter rivalry that has poisoned Bangladeshi politics for nearly three decades.
A Bangladeshi court in April had rejected two petitions of Zia who appeared before it in a graft case which accuses her of embezzling over USD four lakh from a trust.
Graft charges have been brought against her in the Zia Charitable Trust case which accuses her of embezzling 31.5 million Bangladeshi Taka (USD 4 lakh).
In 2010, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case against Zia and four others. In 2012, charges were pressed against four, including the two-time former prime minister Zia. In 2013, the trial began after the court indicted the four.
On March 31, the court had then fixed April 7 to hear Zia’s statement, but it was deferred as the BNP chief pleaded for more time.
In February, Zia was ordered to appear before a court to face trial in a separate USD 1.85 million graft case over contracting out cargo handling work to a company in exchange of kickbacks.