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Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 18:13 UK

Bangladesh ex-PM 'free to return'

Sheikh Hasina after her release from prison on June 11 2008
Sheikh Hasina says the charges against her have been trumped up

The stage has been set for the former Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, to return from the US to contest elections, officials say.

They say that the decision by a court in Dhaka to grant her bail in an extortion case means that she will now be able to compete in December's vote.

Sheikh Hasina was detained last year after the army-backed interim government assumed power.

She was released from prison in June, to go abroad for medical treatment.

Her lawyer says she will have to report to court on 19 October.

She and a former minister were indicted for allegedly extorting some 30 million taka ($438,000) from a businessman.

Sheikh Hasina's long-time political rival, Khaleda Zia, was released on bail last week, after a year in detention on corruption charges.

Both are expected to take part in the forthcoming elections along with scores of other politicians who have also been released.

Correspondents say that the military-backed caretaker government's anti-corruption drive - launched in early 2007 - is now falling apart due to sloppy legal work and lack of expertise.

Both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia deny all charges against them.


SEE ALSO
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30 May 08 |  South Asia
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