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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Ex-Bangladesh PM in murder case
Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina already faces an extortion case

Police in Bangladesh have filed murder charges against former Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.

They say she masterminded the killings of four supporters of a rival political party during street violence in Dhaka last October.

Sheikh Hasina left Bangladesh after the interim government declared a state of emergency in January. She told the BBC that she would now return home early.

She says the interim government is trying to intimidate her.

Correspondents say that it is unlikely that the charges against Sheikh Hasina would have gone ahead without the consent of the military-backed caretaker government.

News of charges against Sheikh Hasina came on the same day that the government severely curtailed the freedom of movement of another former Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, whose son has been arrested on corruption charges.

Correspondents says that Ms Zia is effectively under house arrest.

'Fool's paradise'

In an interview with the BBC Bengali service from the US, Sheikh Hasina said that the government was living in a "fool's paradise" if it thought the charges would prevent her from taking part in Bangladeshi politics.

"I am looking to come back home early and am already looking for a ticket," she said.

"The government thinks it can intimidate me, but it has forgotten that members of my party successfully fought against another military government during the Bangladeshi war of independence from Pakistan in 1971."

Tarique Rahman, the son of Khaleda Zia is in custody
The government has arrested numerous politicians

The caretaker government has postponed elections that were due in January and says no polls can be held until it has dealt with the endemic corruption in the country.

Police say that a murder case against Sheikh Hasina will be heard on 22 April.

"Detective branch police submitted the charge-sheet of the case to a Dhaka court today after carrying out investigations and taking evidence," Deputy Commissioner Shahidul Haq Bhuiyan told the AFP news agency.

Forty-six other Awami League members have also been accused of murder alongside Sheikh Hasina.

The incident happened when the party was in opposition and its supporters were demonstrating about the make-up of the caretaker government.

Ten leaders of the Islamist group, Jamaat-i-Islami - including its leader, Matiur Rahman Nizami - have also been charged separately with being involved in the violence.

There is widespread media speculation in newspapers that the government is seeking to force both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia into political exile, but this has been denied by the administration.

Sheikh Hasina rejects 'false' murder accusations

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