DHAKA: Bangladesh’s High Court on Thursday decided former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia can stand trial on corruption charges involving a contract for a coal mine with a Chinese company, lawyers said.
The court quashed Zia’s petition to scrap the case filed in 2008 by the country’s official anti-corruption watchdog.
The charges accuse Zia and 15 others of causing millions of dollars of losses to the state exchequer by awarding the contract of Barapukuria coal mine to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC).
The Chinese company got the award to operate, manage and maintain the coal mine.
State counsel Khurshid Alam Khan said the bench of Justice Mohammed Nuruzzman and Justice Abdur Rob made the decision, paving the way for going ahead with the corruption trial.
“There is no more bar to go ahead with the case,” Khan said.
But Zia’s counsels said they would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. The High Court is the lower part of the Supreme Court in Bangladesh.
The case proceedings remained halted for years as Zia had sought a halt to the proceedings but the state revived the case earlier this year.
Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party says the case was politically motivated but authorities have denied that.
Zia and her political alliance boycotted the 2014 elections because their demands that a caretaker government hold the elections were not met.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government said those demands were unconstitutional. The boycott by Zia allowed Hasina to win the elections and return to power for five years.