Friday, January 18, 2019

Court orders jail officials to present Khaleda at hearings of two other cases

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2018-02-13 00:09:39 BdST

File Photo

The Dhaka Central Jail authorities have been asked by a court to present Khaleda Zia at hearings of two cases, a senior prisons official has said.

Deputy Inspector General of Prisons Md Touhidul Islam told on Monday that they received the orders to present Khaleda in court on Feb 18 in a case of Shahbagh Police Station and on Mar 4 in another case of Tejgaon Police Station.

The DIG prisons said the cases were started in 2008 but did not specify the charges against Khaleda.

The BNP has alleged the orders are government ploys to hinder Khaleda’s freedom when the lawyers for the former prime minister are preparing for an appeal against her conviction to free her on bail.

The former prime minister has been kept at the old jail on Nazimuddin Road in Dhaka since last Thursday when a special court sentenced her to five years in prison for corruption in Zia Orphanage Trust.

Besides the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, the Anti-Corruption Commission started three other graft cases against Khaleda in 2008 during the military-controlled caretaker government.

In one of the three cases now being heard in court, Khaleda is accused of causing losses to the tune of Tk 137 billion to the state exchequer by awarding a contract to Niko Resources for gas exploration.

Judge Mahmudul Kabir of the Ninth Special Judge’s Court of Dhaka is hearing the Niko graft case. The next date for hearing of the case is Mar 11.

In another case, the ACC alleges she had caused a loss of Tk 145.63 million to the state exchequer by awarding Gatco the container handling work at Dhaka Inland Container Depot or ICD and Chittagong Port.

Judge Abu Syed Dilzar Hossain of the Third Special Judge’s Court of Dhaka on Jan 21 set Mar 4 to resume the hearing of the Gatco graft case.

The other case relates to Barhapukuria Coal Mine. The ACC says the state incurred about Tk 1.59 billion in losses as Khaleda had given the contract to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation or CMC.

The Second Special Judge’s Court of Dhaka is hearing the Barhapukuria Coal Mine graft case, with Hosne Ara as the judge. could not get the next date of hearing in the case.

The Awami League returned to power in 2008, and the ACC started the Zia Charitable Trust graft case against Khaleda three years later.

The case is being heard by judge Md Akhteruzzaman of the Third Special Judge’s Court of Dhaka, who delivered the judgment of the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. The next date of hearing is Feb 25.

Khaleda is accused of sedition and instigation of violence in 11 other cases started during the current government’s tenure. The next date of hearing in these cases is Apr 25.

Senior BNP leader Moudud Ahmed, who is also a lawyer for Khaleda in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, said at a discussion on Monday that the government was delaying the issuance of a certified copy of the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case verdict to keep Khaleda behind bars.

The counsels for Khaleda will need a copy of the over 600-page verdict to challenge it in the High Court and get a bail order after having the verdict stayed.

Zainul Abedin Mejbah, another lawyer for Khaleda, said the government could have provided the copy of the verdict on the day of its delivery if it wanted to.

He submitted 3,000 folio sheets to the court on Monday for the certified copy of the verdict to be written on.

After seeing the news of the orders to present Khaleda in court, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said the government wanted to ‘prevent Khaleda from walking free’.

“After jailing Khaleda Zia, the government is making another conspiracy. She is being shown arrested in different cases,” Rizvi said at a press briefing.

“These are part of a government conspiracy to delay the release on bail of our leader,” he added.

The ruling Awami League has denied any hand in Khaleda’s trial and conviction, saying the courts now work independently in Bangladesh.