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Sentenced to 10 years in prison for wealth beyond means, MP Haji Salim lands in jail

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2022-05-22 14:11:26 BdST

bdnews24

A Dhaka court has sent to jail Awami League MP Haji Mohammad Salim who was sentenced to 10 years in prison a year earlier for having wealth beyond means in a case started by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Salim turned himself in the court and pleaded for bail in the case on Sunday, but Judge Shahidul Islam of the Dhaka Seventh Special Judge’s Court scrapped his plea.

The defence lawyers petitioned for Salim’s bail based on his appeal and any other cause. ACC counsel Mosharraf Hossain Kazol opposed the motion.

Salim’s lawyers also requested he be granted first class privileges in jail as a member of parliament. The defence also demanded proper medical treatment in jail, saying that Haji Salim had lost the ability to speak due to brain haemorrhage.

Judge Shahidul ordered that the decision on whether to grant the privileges should be taken in line with the prison code.

Haji Salim arrived at the court premises by car at 3pm. Large numbers of his supporters and party activists gathered at the court a few hours before his arrival. Additional police were deployed at the court gates and the nearby area.

Salim has been at the risk of losing his membership in parliament since the High Court confirmed his 10-year jail term in March 2021.

The parliament has not made a decision about his membership.

The High Court also ordered the MP Dhaka-7 constituency to turn himself in within a month after the trial court receives a copy of the verdict.

The ACC filed the case against Salim in 2007, when a military-backed caretaker government was running the country.

According to the MP’s counsel, Pran Nath Debnath, the trial court received a copy of the order on Apr 25, which meant Salim had until May 24 to surrender.

FOREIGN TRIP

Salim recently caused serious controversy after leaving the country on Apr 30.

At the time, an aide to the lawmaker said Salim left for Bangkok for medical treatment and would return shortly. Salim did return on May 5.

However, the controversy did not end there. Parallels were drawn with the situation faced by BNP chief Khaleda Zia, who is barred from going abroad for treatment for her prison-term in graft cases.

There was significant debate about the legality of the government allowing the MP to fly abroad. ACC counsel Khurshid Alam Khan said Haji Selim did not have any “legal option” to travel abroad as a convict.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, however, did not agree with the ACC’s legal opinion, saying Salim’s trip abroad was legal.

“As far as the legal question is concerned, his trip came before the High Court decision,” he said during a recent briefing.

“He is a member of parliament. He respects the law. His trip abroad was in line with the law.”

Asked whether a convict could make such a trip, the home minister said: “You know that when the High Court delivers its verdict, there is an official written version. The verdict was announced, but it has not been officially implemented. He left and returned before it was implemented.”