South Asia

Bangladesh orders arrest of Tarique Rahman

Tarique Rahman (file image)
Image caption Tarique Rahman is expected to become the next leader of the BNP

A court in Bangladesh has issued an arrest warrant for Tarique Rahman, son of main opposition leader Khaleda Zia.

He and 18 other people - mostly from the opposition BNP - are accused of involvement in a grenade attack on a political rally in 2004.

Mr Rahman has lived in London since 2008 and it is not clear whether he will return to Bangladesh to face trial.

He is widely expected to succeed Ms Zia as the next leader of the BNP.

In the attack, more than 24 grenades ripped through a rally staged by the Awami League Party - which is now in government but then was in opposition.

More than 20 people died including the wife of the country's current President, Zillur Rahman.

Police allege that Tarique Rahman masterminded the attack to eliminate political opponents.

Arrest warrants were issued against him and 18 others - mostly from the BNP. Most of the other suspects are already in jail on corruption charges.

Amir Khasru Mahmud Chaudhury, a senior figure in the BNP, says the charges are groundless and he accused the governing Awami League of trying to tarnish the image of the party.

"Politics is very much the reason behind this because I think they have lost popularity. They have no faith in [the] democratic system. Therefore they have chosen the path where they can grab state power without public support," he said.

The charges against him come just weeks after a Bangladeshi court sentenced his younger brother, Arafat Rahman Koko, to six years in prison in a money-laundering case.

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