Bangladesh president's body flown from Singapore

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The body of Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman was flown to Dhaka on Thursday following his death in a Singapore hospital, national airline Biman said.

Mr Rahman, 84, a veteran politician from the ruling Awami League party who was named to the largely ceremonial post in 2009, died on Wednesday at a private hospital in Singapore.

A special flight carrying the leader's remains left Singapore shortly before 10am, said Mr Mohammad Arif Ullah, Biman's country manager for Singapore.

Mr Rahman's family members and aides were also on board the Boeing 737-800 plane, which was expected to land at 11:50am local time in Dhaka, he told AFP.

Mr Rahman, who was suffering from kidney and respiratory problems, was flown to Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital by air ambulance on March 10 after his health worsened.

Bangladesh declared three days of mourning after his death, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called it "an irreparable loss to the country and its people".

A lawyer by profession and one of the longest-serving lawmakers in the country, Mr Rahman first joined Parliament in 1973 after making his name as an activist who pushed for Bangladesh to break free from Pakistani rule.