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Street protests erupt in Bangladesh over ex-PM son arrest warrant


08:13, May 28, 2013

DHAKA, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Bangladesh opposition men took to the busiest streets of Dhaka and elsewhere in the country on Monday, protesting the issuance of arrest warrant against ex- Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's eldest son Tarique Rahman, now living in London.

Stray incidents of clashes, explosions of cocktails, torching and vandalism of vehicles have been reported in parts of the capital city of the South Asian country where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government last week banned political rallies for one month.

Dozens of homemade bombs went off during the acts of violence, local TV reports said.

A court in Dhaka on Sunday issued the warrant of arrest,saying it would ask the Interpol to help detain Rahman, also a senior vice chairman of Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) as he has been living in London. The prosecution of a money laundering case against Rahman filed an application before the Dhaka Special Judge's Court-3 earlier in the day seeking its directive to bring back him after issuing an arrest warrant against him with the help of Interpol. Rahman was arrested on March 7, 2007 on charges of corruption during the 2007-2008 military-controlled caretaker government. He went to London after his release on bail in September 2008 for " treatment" reportedly on condition of not participating at any political activities during his stay there. The court order also triggered a protest by lawyers loyal to the main opposition party who brought out procession on court premises on Monday, showed the television footage. Dhaka's leading newspaper The Daily Star reported that Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, student wing of BNP, vandalized 10 vehicles in Laxmibazar area of old Dhaka on Monday protesting the issuance of arrest warrant. Local television station Somoy reported explosions of eight cocktails and torching and vandalism of vehicles in Dhaka's commercial district Motijheel and adjoining areas. Police reportedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up protesters. The demonstrators responded by throwing bricks. There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by the acts of violence. A large number of law enforcers were seen guarding the Dhaka streets and the opposition headquarters adjoining areas to avoid any untoward incident. Opposition chief Khaleda often says political vendettas are to blame in both her sons' prosecutions during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's incumbent government against which she has been leading the opposition procession from her party.

Last year her youngest son, Arafat Rahman, now in Thailand, was sentenced to a 6-year jail term also on a corruption and money laundering charges. Since the end of her tenure in 2006, her eldest son Rahman faced 16 cases of corruption and extortion charges.

The arrest warrant was issued less than a week after Rahman was back in news as he attended a BNP function on May 20 in East London, where he stressed the need for elections under a non- party caretaker system.

Hasina's party, which has two-thirds majority in parliament, annulled the caretaker government system after Supreme Court on May 2011 repealed the 13th amendment to the country's constitution through which the caretaker system was institutionalized in 1996 by the then BNP government under pressure from the then main opposition AL, now the ruling party.

Demanding restoration of the caretaker system, unconditional release of its leaders and protesting a recent ban on rallies for one month, Khaleda's main 18-party opposition alliance Sunday enforced a countrywide general strike.

Protesting the move to bring Rahman back home from London with the help of Interpol, local units of BNP also enforced a daylong shutdown in two northwestern districts Sirajganj and Bogra, home district of Rahman, on Monday.

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