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6 August, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Gatco graft case

Khaleda trial to continue

The High Court yesterday rejected two writ petitions filed by BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia challenging the legality of the trial proceedings of the Gatco graft case against her. It also directed the BNP chief to surrender before the trial court within two months of receiving the copy of the verdict.
The HC bench comprising Justice Md Nuruzzaman and Justice Abdur Rob also vacated its earlier stay order on the trial proceedings of the case.
Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan, counsel for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), told reporters that there is no legal bar for the trial court to continue the trial proceedings of the Gatco case against Khaleda following the HC order. "The BNP chief has to surrender before the trial court within two months of getting the copy of the verdict. The countdown of the day will start after receiving the copy of the verdict," he added.
Khan said the HC directed the trial court to consider Khaleda's bail on her surrender following a prayer made by the defence lawyer.
Advocate Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, counsel for the BNP chief, told reporters that they did not know why the court rejected the petitions. "We'll examine the verdict after getting the copy of the verdict we would examine the verdict," he added.
“We must appeal with the apex court against the HC verdict. I think that the trial proceedings of the case could run in the trial court,” he said.
Earlier, on June 17, the same HC bench had concluded the hearing on the two petitions and kept its verdict pending.
On September 2, 2007, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case under Emergency Power Rule against BNP chief Khaleda Zia, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Matiur Rahman Nizami and 11 others. According to the case statement, there was corruption in awarding Global Agro Trade (Pvt) Company Ltd (Gatco) a contract for container management at inland depots in Dhaka and Chittagong. The graft allegedly cost the state exchequer over Tk 1,000 crore.
On September 27, 2007, Khaleda filed a petition with the HC, challenging the legality of the inclusion of the case under the Emergency Powers Act and seeking a stay order on the trial proceedings. In 2008, an HC bench issued a rule and stayed the trial proceedings after hearing a petition of the BNP chief.

In the same year, the proceedings of the graft case were stayed again following another petition filed by Khaleda challenging the legality of the case.
The HC also issued separate rules asking the government and the ACC to explain why bringing the case under EPR and its filling and proceeding should not be declared illegal. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court recently revoked the HC stay order following a petition filed by the ACC seeking its order over the matter. The apex court also directed the HC to dispose of the petitions pending before it over the matter.
As per the apex court's directive, the HC heard the arguments from both sides and fixed August 5 for delivering its verdict.
The same HC bench on June 18 also rejected a writ petition filed by the BNP chief challenging the legality of the Niko graft case. The bench also vacated its earlier stay order on the case proceedings. It also directed the BNP chief to surrender before the trial court in two months after getting the full copy of its verdict in connection with the case.
At the same time, the HC asked the lower court to consider granting bail to Khaleda following her surrender.
On December 9, 2007, the ACC had filed two cases against Hasina and Khaleda for alleged corruption in signing contracts with Canadian oil company Niko Resources Ltd by showing a productive gas-field as “marginal”, causing the state to incur a loss of Tk. 23,630.5 crore. Three former ministers, five retired bureaucrats and a Niko official were named as accused in the cases.
On March 11, 2010, the HC had quashed the charges against Hasina, along with six others, who were charged with causing a loss of Tk. 13,630.50 crore.
Khaleda was prosecuted, along with four others, on the charge of causing a loss of Tk. 10,000 crore to the state.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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