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Monday, 20 November, 2000, 15:46 GMT
Bangladesh general back in jail
General Ershad embraces wife
General Ershad is embraced by his wife before going to jail
By Moazzem Hossain in Dhaka

The former president of Bangladesh, Hussain Mohammad Ershad, is in jail for the second time in 10 years after surrendering to a district court in the capital, Dhaka.

General Ershad arrived at court in an open jeep followed by hundreds of supporters, who shouted anti-government slogans and showered him with flower petals.

Within 15 minutes of his surrender, he was taken to prison, while his supporters clashed with police at the gates outside.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ordered him to surrender to the court that convicted him for misappropriating government funds and abuse of power.

Appeal

The case is linked to the construction of a high-rise building in Dhaka while he was in power.

He has filed an appeal against the conviction and the hearing is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The general is no stranger to Dhaka's central jail, where he has spent most of the last 10 years since he was ousted from power in 1990.

General Ershad came to power in 1982 in a bloodless coup, and ruled the country with an iron hand for nine years.

In 1990, in the face of an intensified pro-democracy movement, he was forced to hand over power to a caretaker administration.

He was arrested with most of his cabinet colleagues soon after he was forced out of power.

Corruption cases

General Ershad successfully contested the general elections of 1991 and 1996 from prison, and was elected to parliament on both occasions.

In 1996, his Jatiyo Party backed Sheikh Hasina's Awami League to help it form the government.

In 1997, he was released on bail after spending almost six years in prison.

But his relations with the ruling Awami League subsequently deteriorated.

He switched his support to his one-time political adversary and main opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, forming an anti-government coalition.

But General Ershad's political fate will now depend on the courts, where 17 other cases are still pending against him.

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