Friday, November 24, 2017

BNP chief Khaleda gets more time to defend herself in Trusts graft charges

  • Court Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-03-02 14:19:37 BdST


The court has granted more time to BNP chief Khaleda Zia to testify defending herself in the graft cases over the Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust.

Dhaka's Third Special Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar has fixed Mar 9 to hear the former prime minister's statement on the allegations involving Tk 52.5 million.

The court was expected to hear Khaleda on Thursday, but her counsels pleaded for more time citing a petition pending with the High Court.

Zia Charitable Trust graft

In 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case accusing the BNP chief and three others for embezzlement of Tk 31.5 million of the Zia Charitable Trust.

The other accused are Khaleda’s former political secretary Harris Chowdhury, his personal assistant and former BIWTA director Ziaul Islam Munna and former Dhaka City mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka’s personal assistant Monirul Islam Khan.

In January 2012, the ACC pressed charges against them and the trial began in March next year after they were indicted.

The court has heard testimonies of 32 witnesses while defendants Munna and Khan have given their written statements defending themselves.

Chowdhury has been absconding since the case started.

On Dec 1 last year, Khaleda pleaded not guilty while defending herself. Since then she has skipped several hearings to resume her statement.

Zia Orphanage Trust graft

In 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against six including Khaleda and her son Tarique Rahman.

It alleged that the defendants had embezzled Tk 21 million from funds meant for the trust, which reportedly came from a foreign bank.

The trial kicked-off in March 2014 after the same court indicted them.

Of the other defendants, former MP Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed are out on bail while on Jan 26, a warrant was issued for Tarique, who has been in the UK for the last nine years and has warrants on him in several others cases.

The two others accused in the case -- former principal secretary to the PM Kamal Uddin Siddique and one Maminur Rahman, nephew of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, are absconding.

On Feb 2, the court rejected Khaleda's petition for fresh probe into the allegations and asked whether she would give her defence statement.

"I won't say anything in defence because I am not given time and my lawyers do not have confidence in the judge. So I also don't have confidence in the judge," she replied.

On Feb 16, she filed a petition with the High Court seeking to change the trial court citing her lack of confidence on the judge.