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Bangladesh Police Arrest Islamic Party Chief as Court Indicts Former PM Hasina for Corruption

A Bangladesh court indicted former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for alleged graft on Sunday, and police arrested the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh party, Matiur Rahman Nizami, on similar charges.

The court indicted Ms. Hasina for allegedly taking $440,000 in bribes from a power plant in exchange for awarding it a state contract. The kickbacks allegedly took place during her term in office between 1996 and 2001.

The former prime minister denied any wrongdoing and said the charges are politically motivated.

Nizami was arrested late Sunday, after police raided his residence.

Also Sunday, a metropolitan court in Dhaka ordered two ministers in former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Cabinet jailed, pending trial in another corruption case. The ministers, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and M. Shamsul Islam, were taken into custody after they surrendered to the court.

Ms. Hasina could face at least seven years in prison if convicted. She is among some 150 high-profile figures, including Ms. Zia, who have been arrested as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

The interim government launched the crackdown after taking power and calling a state of emergency in January 2007. The military leaders say they will organize elections once corruption in Bangladesh has been eliminated.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.