Bangladesh court quashes Hasina's trial
Dhaka (PTI): In an embarrassment to Bangladesh's military backed government, the High Court on wednesday quashed the trial of jailed former premier Sheikh Hasina in an "extortion" case saying it was "illegal" to prosecute her under emergency laws.
A bench comprising justices Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman and Shahidul Islam delivered the judgement on a writ petition filed by the Awami League chief, who was arrested in July during an anti-graft drive.
Hasina, 62, had challenged trial under the tough emergency rules that bar the court from granting the accused bail as the alleged crime took place before a state of emergency was promulgated in January last year.
"The entire (trial) process has been declared illegal and quashed," Hasina's counsel and former attorney general Rafiqul Haq told reporters after emerging from the crowded courtroom.
The attorney general, who represented the government in the case, was not immediately available for comments.
The ex-premier was being tried by Metropolitan Sessions court on a complaint filed by Bangladeshi businessmen Ajam J Chowdhury who alleged that he was forced to pay nearly taka 3 crore (USD 4.35 lakh) to get a power project cleared during Hasina's rule.
The crucial High Court judgement came after seven days of hearing on the writ during which the bench also heard opinions of six amicus curiae or 'friends of court' it had appointed earlier.
Most of the amicus curiae opined that the former premier could not be tried under emergency rules since the alleged crime took place while Hasina was in power from 1996 to 2001.