• Saturday, July 20, 2024

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Nobel laureate Yunus indicted, trial next month

Professor Muhammad Yunus and 13 others have been charged with embezzling over £1.56 million from the workers welfare fund of Grameen Telecom

Muhammad Yunus

By: Shajil Kumar

A DHAKA court on Wednesday (12) indicted Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and 13 others for embezzling over $2 million (£1.56m).

Special judge Syed Arafat Hossain rejected a plea for the dismissal of charges by the accused and ordered the indictment.

The charges are related to Yunus’ non-profit Grameen Telecom. The prosecution has accused Yunus and the others of embezzling 250 million takas (£1.56m) from the workers welfare fund of Grameen Telecom.

Judge Hossain read out the charges and trial hearing will start from July 15, a prosecution lawyer said.

Counsels for Yunus, 83, and the other accused – all currently on bail – pleaded not guilty and demanded exemption of their clients, but the court rejected the plea, saying the charges have been primarily proved and framed against them.

Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering microcredit to help impoverished people, especially women, while the Grameen Bank, which he had founded, also secured the prize on the same occasion.

Grameen Telecom owns a 34.2 per cent stake in Bangladesh’s largest mobile phone operator, Grameenphone, a subsidiary of Norway’s telecom giant Telenor.

Yunus told reporters that though they have not been proven guilty, they were put in the dock for a long time.

Earlier in January, Yunus was sentenced to six months in prison on a separate charge of violating the labour laws, but was granted bail while the sentence was challenged before the Supreme Court’s High Court Division.

The economist faces over 150 other cases, including major corruption charges that could see him jailed for years if found guilty, but he denies all wrongdoing.

More than 241 global leaders, including over 125 Nobel Laureates, have expressed their concerns via an open letter to prime minister Sheikh Hasina over the ‘continuous judicial harassment’ of Yunus. Former US president Barack Obama is also one of the signatories of the letter. (PTI)

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