Bangladesh PM gets legal notice for 'defamatory statement'

Indo Asian News Service

Dhaka, Jan 2 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was Wednesday sent a legal notice for a "defamatory statement" against the deputy chief of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), a party official said.

Counsel for Tarique Rahman, the BNP's senior vice chairman, sent the notice to the Prime Minister's Office, Shimul Biswas, assistant to BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, told Xinhua.

Rahman served the notice on Hasina, asking her to withdraw a recent "defamatory statement" against him, and apologise.

Rahman is Zia's elder son. He was arrested in March 2007 on charges of corruption during the 2007-2008 military-controlled caretaker government. He went to London after getting bail.

According to the notice, Hasina, also the president of the ruling Awami League party, at a public rally in December said Rahman made huge amounts of money through corruption and was leading a luxurious life in London with illegally earned property and assets.

"If she (Hasina) does not withdraw her statement and seek apology publicly, we'll go for legal action against her," Rahman's counsel Mahabub-uddin Khokon told Xinhua.

Khokon, also a BNP MP, said Rahman denied the allegations which were brought against him by the prime minister, and said they were "false and politically motivated".

In the legal notice, Rahman, who has been living in London and undergoing treatment since September 2008, denied the charges of corruption.

Xinhua said the PMO could not be reached for comment.

Last year, Zia's youngest son Arafat Rahman, now in Thailand, was sentenced to jail for six years on corruption and money laundering charges.

Since the end of her term in 2006, Rahman faced 14 cases on charges of corruption and extortion.

Khaleda Zia was prime minister 1991-1996 and 2001-2006.