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Second Bangladesh Ex-PM Formally Charged With Corruption


Bangladesh's interim government has formally charged former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday with corruption.

Ms. Hasina is accused of illegally awarding contracts to a foreign oil company during her term.

On Monday, authorities also charged former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in connection with the case.

The Anti-Corruption Commission says the country lost millions of dollars as a result of the contracts given to a Canadian oil exploration company, Niko Resources Ltd.

Ms. Zia has maintained her innocence, saying the allegations are politically motivated. Both of her sons - Tarique and Arafat Rahman - have also been arrested on graft charges.

Both former prime ministers are part of the some 150 politicians arrested last year in a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

The military-backed interim government took power in January 2007 and has promised to hold elections once corruption has been eliminated

The U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, James Moriarty, urged Bangladesh to lift a state of emergency so that those elections could take place by the end of the year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.