POST TIME: 10 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Khaleda awaits verdict copy

Khaleda awaits verdict copy

The BNP chief, Khaleda Zia, is waiting for the certified copy of the lower court verdict for filing an appeal before the High Court (HC), seeking bail and stay of the five-year jail sentence in a graft case. Barrister Mahbub Uddin Khokan, along with some other lawyers, submitted a petition before Dhaka's special court-5, seeking the certified copy of its verdict so that they can move the HC quickly against the lower court verdict. Lawyers of the BNP chief said if they receive the certified copy on Sunday, it  would be possible to file an appeal on Monday before the HC for Khaleda’s bail.

Md Akhtaruzzaman, judge of Dhaka’s special court-5, on Thursday sentenced the BNP chairperson to five years in prison. Tarique Rahman and four others were awarded 10 years’ imprisonment in the case.

BNP lawyers sought the certified copy of the verdict on the same day, but the court could not provide it due to some procedural problems, according to court sources.

Court officials will type the 632-page verdict, after which the judge will revise it. After it is typed and revised, the court will provide the certified copy to the defence lawyers as early as possible, the sources said.

Talking to this correspondent, Barrister Mahbub Uddin Khokan said after receiving the certified copy, they would need a day to prepare for filing the appeal. “We’ll file the appeal before the HC on Monday if we get the certified copy from the lower court on Sunday. We’ll need a day to prepare for filing the appeal,” he added.

He also said that they would seek bail for the BNP chief. “We’ll also seek a stay of the lower court verdict from the HC,” he added.  

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, advocate Zainul Abedin, said they would seek bail for Khaleda from the HC, if possible by Sunday, depending on whether she receives the certified copy of the verdict on that day. “In the appeal, we’ll seek bail for her (Khaleda) from the HC. We’ll try to move the appeal before the HC on Sunday for Khaleda Zia’s bail, if indeed the appeal can be filed on that day,” he added.

“If it’s not possible to move the appeal on Sunday, we’ll move it on Monday for getting Khaleda Zia released from jail,” he said.

Prosecution lawyer Mosarraf Hossain Kajol told this correspondent that there was no specific timeframe for the court to provide the certified copy of the verdict. But it is the right of the accused person to secure the certified copy within a short time, he added.

“Khaleda might have prayed for the certified copy of the verdict.  Hopefully, she will get it very soon,” he said.

The Dhaka special judge’s court-5 sentenced BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case filed in 2008.

Her eldest son and BNP senior vice-chairman, Tarique Rahman, and four others were given 10-year jail terms in the case. The court also fined Tarique and the four others Tk. 21,071,000.

Khaleda Zia and two other accused— former BNP lawmaker Qazi Saleemul Huq and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed—are now in jail.

Three other accused—Tarique Rahman, Khaleda’s ex-principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddique and Ziaur Rahman’s nephew Mominur Rahman—were tried in their absence.

It is the second time that a lower court has convicted a former head of government in connection with a corruption case.

Earlier, a lower court had given its judgment in a case in which HM Ershad was the accused.

After the verdict, law enforcers took Khaleda to old Dhaka’s Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road on Thursday afternoon.

On January 25, after concluding the final hearing of arguments of the defence and the prosecution, special court-5 judge Md Akhtaruzzaman fixed February 8 for delivering the verdict.

On July 3, 2008, the ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, accusing Khaleda, Tarique Rahman and four others of misappropriating more than Tk. 2.10 crore that had come as grants for orphans from a foreign bank.

On August 8, 2011, the ACC filed the case with Tejgaon police station, accusing four people, including Khaleda Zia, of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.