News

    Bangladesh Creates Truth Commission

    One of two former Bangladeshi prime ministers facing corruption charges appeared in court Monday. The hearing for Sheikh Hasina comes a day after the cabinet of the interim government approved formation of a truth commission. The military-backed government is promising corruption suspects they can avoid prison if they confess and surrender any illegally-earned wealth. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Dhaka.

    Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League made a brief appearance Monday in a special court in Bangladesh's capital. Her lawyers said they had not received necessary court documents and thus needed more time to prepare. The judge granted a six-day extension.

    Hasina's rival, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, did not appear in court Monday as scheduled. Officials say she is ill but her lawyer told reporters the Bangladesh National Party matriarch is fine and it is a mystery as to why she was not brought to court by authorities.

    The two former prime ministers are among 170 politicians and business people arrested by the reformist interim government, installed by the military 17 months ago.

    The caretaker government on Sunday approved a Truth and Accountability Commission, designed to streamline the hundreds of corruption cases.

    The country's acting foreign minister, known as the Foreign Adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowhdury, tells VOA News those arrested in the massive anti-graft sweep will receive lenient treatment by the truth commission if they admit to the charges they face.

    "It basically gives incentives to people to come forward and declare themselves," said Chowhdury. "And it wants to draw a curtain, to put an end, to this phase of national life."

    Chowdhury says while the offer will be open to corruption suspects for a five-month period giving them a chance to avoid imprisonment, however, there will be some some sort of penalty imposed.

    "Perhaps the person who has confessed it or returning ill-gotten wealth will have to face some kind of social probium or penal clauses," he said.

    The president of the party, known as the JSD, Hasanul Haq Inu, says he is concerned the Truth and Accountability Commission will merely sweep cases under the rug.

    "We think that it is actually legalizing the corrupt persons and you are keeping the real facts secret from the public," he said.

    The emergency government says the truth commission will be headed by a retired senior government officer, a former army general or supreme court justice.

    The latest prominent figure to be arrested in the anti-corruption drive is a former army chief taken into custody Sunday at a Dhaka hospital where he was undergoing treatment. Police say General Mustafizur Rhaman, along with former Prime Minister Hasina and five others, are accused of corruption in connection with the purchase of eight fighter jets from Russia for the Bangladesh Air Force.

    Bangladesh, with 150 million people, has consistently been ranked as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

    The military took over in January 2007 following prolonged political turmoil. It declared emergency rule and installed a caretaker government dedicated to stamping out corruption as a prelude to a return to democracy. Elections are now set for this December but open campaigning is not yet permitted. The government is attempting to negotiate with the key parties to ensure their participation in the polling.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora