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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Three more top Bangladeshis held
Abdul Jalil
Abdul Jalil - 'not corrupt' says his party leader
Three more leading figures in Bangladesh's two main political parties have been arrested in a continuing anti-corruption drive.

Abdul Jalil, the secretary general of the Awami League, was arrested at one of his offices, colleagues said.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party's Lutfozzaman Babar and MA Hashem were detained at their homes.

More than 160 prominent figures have been detained since a state of emergency was declared in January.

It was declared by the military-backed caretaker administration which also suspended parliamentary elections that had been due in January.

It says it will hold the polls by late 2008, giving it time to deal with Bangladesh's endemic corruption.

Harris Chowdhury
Harris Chowdhury was given a three-year jail sentence.
"Abdul Jalil was picked up from his private office at the capital's Motijheel commercial area," an Awami spokesman said, Reuters news agency reports.

Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina denounced the arrests.

The men "were never involved in corruption so far our knowledge is concerned", she told reporters.

Lutfozzaman Babar was a home minister in the government of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. He and MA Hashem were picked up at their homes in the Gulshan area of the capital, Dhaka.

Charges against the three men have not been disclosed.

In absentia

Last week, one of the most important figures in Khaleda Zia's government was given a three-year jail sentence.

Harris Chowdhury was found guilty by a special anti-corruption court set up by the interim government.

The sentence was imposed in absentia as he is in hiding. It was the first such sentence against a high-ranking politician.

The interim government has made tackling corruption its main objective.

Among the many prominent people under arrest is Ms Zia's influential elder son, Tarique Rahman. He was detained in March, accused of extorting $147,000 from a construction company. He has denied wrongdoing.

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