Bangladesh acquits university teachers over protest

Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:08am EST

(Adds pardon)

DHAKA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Four Bangladeshi university teachers accused of inciting students during campus protests that caused the government to impose curfews in major cities last year were acquitted on Monday, court officials and lawyers said.

The teachers at Dhaka University, the country's biggest, were arrested in August in connection with the campus unrest. The court also acquitted 11 students, court officials told reporters, citing lack of evidence.

The court decision follows protest marches by students and teachers over the past two weeks demanding the release of their colleagues.

But the acquitted teachers and students would not be released immediately, because a second case relating to the August violence was still pending against them, lawyers said.

They were arrested under the country's emergency rules and later investigated by a judicial commission.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January last year, when the interim government took power and banned political activity and protests.

Separately, President Iajuddin Ahmed on Monday pardoned 14 students from Dhaka University and Rajshahi University in the northwest of the country, who were convicted of involvement in the August riots.

Authorities ordered an indefinite curfew in major cities including the capital Dhaka, following the August violence that was sparked by an alleged assault on some students by troops during a football match on the Dhaka University campus.

One man was killed in the Rajshahi University while around 300 others were injured elsewhere during the violence.

The curfew was lifted after a few days, but all major universities in the six cities remained closed for up to two months. (Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)