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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Bangladesh ex-PM granted bail
Khaleda Zia
Khaleda Zia appeared in court surrounded by supporters
The Bangladeshi opposition leader and former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, has been granted bail in a $35m corruption case.

Mrs Zia is alleged to have received illegal payments over the purchase of two French Airbuses in 1995 for the state-run airline, Biman.

The nation is with you, Khaleda Zia go ahead

BNP activists

Also charged were her finance minister, Saifur Rahman, and eight other former government officials.

Lawyers for Mrs Zia said the accusations against her had been fabricated in order to undermine her image - a reference to the allegations of corruption which she herself has brought against the government of the current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.

Judge Ahmed Mustafa Jamil of the Dhaka District Session court granted Mrs Zia bail which was set at 100,000 taka ($1,850).

She then left the court as party activists chanted: "The nation is with you, Khaleda Zia go ahead."

'Fabrication'

Mrs Zia has recently been leading a campaign against the government to force early general elections.

But Prime Minister Hasina has said elections will be held as scheduled in mid-2001.

"This graft case was filed a long time ago and it has been brought to the forefront again to malign our leader in light of the upcoming elections," the BNP's Sadeq Hossain Khoka told the French news agency, AFP.

Finance Minister in the BNP government, Saifur Rahman said: "The decision to buy the planes was taken following recommendation of the Board of Directors of Biman Bangladesh Airlines. There was nothing wrong in that."

Khaleda Zia was the country's prime minister from 1991 to 1996.

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23 Aug 00 | South Asia
Opposition strike in Bangladesh
20 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh MPs return to walk out
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