A Bangladesh court has formally charged former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with extortion, after weeks of reviewing the prosecution's evidence.

Court officials said Sunday that her trial will begin on January 17 and will end within two months.

Authorities said the court rejected a defense plea to drop the charges and decided there was sufficient evidence to indict her for extortion.

The former prime minister is accused of taking $437 million from a businessman in 2000 while she was in power. Ms. Hasina has denied the charges.

Bangladesh's military-backed government has detained at least 150 high-profile figures in a crackdown on political corruption.

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