Gulf News

Top Bangladesh leader charged over murders

Former PM and 55 others accused of involvemen­t in killings of five rivals

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Dhaka (AP) Police charged former Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina and 55 other political activists in Bangladesh yesterday for their alleged roles in the killings of five rivals during riots last year, reports said.

Dhaka city police sub-inspector Enamul Haque filed murder charges against Hasina and 45 members of a 19-party political alliance led by her Awami League party, news agency bdnews24.com reported.

Haque accused them of involvemen­t in the deaths of four activists of Jamaate-Islami Bangladesh during riots last year in the capital, Dhaka, that left a total of five people dead, the report said.

The violence followed the appointmen­t of an interim government charged with overseeing new elections following the end of Prime Minister Khalida Zia’s five-year term.

Hasina, a bitter rival of Zia, has been implicated as an “abettor” to the killings of the Jamaat activists, another local agency the United News of Bangladesh, reported. Police sub-inspector A. K. M. Idris Hossain meanwhile pressed murder charges against Jamaat-eIslami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and nine of his colleagues for their alleged roles in the killing of an activist who belonged to the Awami League-led alliance at the same riot, a local television station reported.

Separate hearings

A senior city police official reached by phone declined to comment on the charges. Two Dhaka courts will separately hear the cases on April 22 to decide whether the charges could be pursued, the UNB reported.

Hasina is in the US visiting her children, and could not immediatel­y be reached for comment. She led the South Asian nation as prime minister from 1996 to 2001.

China and Japan opened a summit yesterday to firm up a fragile rapprochem­ent and set aside rancour over their wartime past.

But an announceme­nt by a Chinese state company that it had produced gas in a disputed zone underscore­d the Asian giants’ rivalry over energy and regional influence.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s three-day visit — the first by a Chinese leader since 2000 — will be studded with agreements, speeches and pho- to-ops to showcase a thaw that started with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s October trip to Beijing.

Sino-Japanese ties grew chilly under Abe’s predecesso­r, Junichiro Koizumi, who made annual visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine, seen in Asia as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

“The visit to Japan by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will be a big step forward towards building mutually beneficial strategic relations,” Abe said as cam- eras rolled at the start of the summit. To which Wen replied: “That is the most important goal of my visit. We need to talk about the details of what strategica­lly and mutually beneficial relations would entail.”

Efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear arms programme are certain to be on the agenda during Wen’s visit.

The two leaders were also expected to unveil agreements on cooperatio­n in energy and environmen­tal protection.

If the current spate of Sharjah fires persists, we are in for a very long and hot summer. Not a single day passes without a fire in Sharjah, some of which were fatal. The latest incident led to the tragic death of a three-year-old boy who was dropped from an eighth floor flat by his panicstric­ken mother.

Some of the recent fires resulted in huge financial losses. And despite assurances of the concerned authoritie­s that they are taking the necessary measures to stem the rising rate of fires, we continue to witness even more horrifying ones.

The authoritie­s need to consider stringent measures to stop this strange phenomenon. The municipali­ty should play a bigger role in any plan to keep our buildings safe. Such plans should include, for example, regular inspection­s to ensure the viability of safety measures and the existence of fire extinguish­ers in all flats.

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AFP
 ?? AP ?? Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (centre) is welcomed by Chinese residents in Japan upon his arrival at Haneda Internatio­nal Airport in Tokyo yesterday. Wen arrived in Japan for a fence-mending trip aimed at setting aside the key trading partners’ historical...
AP Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (centre) is welcomed by Chinese residents in Japan upon his arrival at Haneda Internatio­nal Airport in Tokyo yesterday. Wen arrived in Japan for a fence-mending trip aimed at setting aside the key trading partners’ historical...

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