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Son of Bangladesh's Former PM Denied Bail in Corruption Case


The son of Bangladesh's former prime minister is among 150 senior politicians detained in corruption investigations. As Anjana Pasricha reports, the emergency government installed in January is cracking down on reports of graft.

Officials say that former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son, Tareque Rahman, was sent to Dhaka Central Jail after a court rejected his bail petition. He was arrested last week on charges of extorting about $145,000 from a construction company. Late Monday, the court ordered him jailed for another month to allow more time for investigation.

On Tuesday, however, he was moved to a prison hospital because he felt ill.

Rahman is a senior leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party headed by his mother. He is widely regarded as her political heir and many analysts say he wielded huge influence during Mrs. Zia's tenure as prime minister.

The head of Dhaka's Center for Policy Dialogue, Debapriya Bhattacharya says the high profile arrest shows that the army-backed government is serious about its resolve to purge corruption from the political system.

"It was more taken as an expression of the determination to carry forward the anti-corruption drive, and it is not going to spare the most talked-about people," he said.

Civic groups and ordinary people have welcomed the anti-corruption drive that has led to the detention of dozens of senior politicians, former ministers and businessmen in the past two months. The arrested politicians belong to both main parties.

Mrs. Zia's five-year term ended in October, when she handed power to an interim government that was to arrange elections. However, it failed to do so, and an emergency government was installed January after elections were cancelled because of growing political violence.

The emergency administration also has established anti-corruption cells of security forces and intelligence agencies.

Officials say it is necessary to root out corruption from politics before the government restores democracy.

However, some political analysts worry that the government has made no announcement about when it plans to hold elections. They think that polls will not be held this year.

The government has tightened its ban on political activity in the country. Last week, the government prohibited all indoor political activities, prompting most parties to lock up their offices. All outdoor political activities, such as rallies, were banned in January.