Bangla PM rid of graft charges

DHAKA: A corruption charge against Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been dropped because the man who laid it now says he was pressured to do so by the last government, a state prosecutor said Sunday.

Hasina, who was sworn in on January 6, was detained for a year by the previous army-backed emergency government, which carried out a crackdown on graft, mainly targeting political leaders, during its two years in power.

She was released as part of a deal with the outgoing authorities so that she could run in the elections that brought her to power.

"The charge was brought against Hasina because a businessman said Hasina took a bribe over a deal for a power plant. He now says he was forced to lay the charge by authorities," assistant public prosecutor Kabir Hossain told AFP.

"The prime minister's cousin was implicated in the case as well and all charges against her and her family have been dropped."

At one time during the last government, Hasina faced a dozen or so charges but several have been dropped in the past six months.

Hasina still faces a handful of corruption charges and one count of murder relating to the 2006 deaths of supporters of opposition political parties in violent street protests.

These are also expected to be dropped, officials say.