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Khaleda younger son held in graft drive

Dhaka, April 16 (PTI): Bangladesh security forces, led by the army, arrested former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s youngest son last night, 46 days after her older son was taken into custody, officials said today.

Arafat Rahman Koko was arrested from his mother’s Dhaka Cantonment residence. “He has been taken to custody. I’m sure there are specific allegations of corruption against him,” a security official said without giving any details.

Joint military and police forces carried out a massive search of the house while senior officials talked to Khaleda and Koko for a “long time” before arresting him, the private ATN Bangla television channel and the Prothom Alo daily reported. Security officials said after “primary interrogations”, Koko can be taken to court tomorrow to seek a magistrate’s order for sending him to jail or bring him to remand for further interrogation.

Communication adviser of the interim cabinet Major General (Retired) Abdul Matin said a task force would investigate the corruption allegations against Koko. A businessman by profession, Koko has not been involved in politics.

“I don’t know yet what allegations he is facing... But there must be some specific allegations,” said Matin who is also the head of a national task force against severe crimes and corruption.

Koko’s arrest comes 46 days after his high-profile elder brother Tarique Rahman was arrested from the same house in a similar pre-dawn raid. Last month, a Bangladesh court accepted extortion charges filed against Tarique, 40, who owns a textile factory and is a senior Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader.

Police investigators formally filed charges with a magistrate’s court against Tarique for allegedly extorting $147,000 from a construction company. Tarique, awaiting trial in jail, has denied the charges.

Earlier, Bangladesh newspapers reported that the government had restricted Khaleda’s visits outside her home. The government plans to clean up Bangladesh’s corruption-ridden politics before balloting is held, hopefully before the end of next year.

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