POST TIME: 5 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 5 September, 2018 01:20:40 AM
Court to hold Khaleda trial in old Dhaka jail
BNP opposes the move

Court to hold Khaleda trial in old Dhaka jail

In a major development, a Dhaka court will sit inside the old Dhaka Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road, where BNP chief Khaleda has been kept, for conducting its judicial functions relating to the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case. “The hearing on the Zia Charitable Trust graft case against the BNP chairperson will be held today. Khaleda has been kept there since the lower court sentenced her to five years in prison in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case,” Advocate Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, counsel for the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), told reporters yesterday.

He said the court was supposed to hear arguments on August 7, but the jail authorities did not produce her before the court as she was ill. Later, the court fixed September 5 for hearing in the case, said Kajal, adding that the hearing on the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case against Khaleda Zia will be held on the jail premises as the concerned judge will sit inside the jail to conduct the judicial functioning.

The hearing on the case had so far been held at the makeshift courtroom of the special judge’s court at Alia Madrasa ground in Bakshibazar area of the capital.

“The trial proceedings of the case are being delayed due to the absence of Khaleda Zia as she was not produced before the court for her illness. The court will sit inside the jail for quick hearing on the case. The trial proceedings will be held in presence of the media and people,” he said.

The pro-BNP lawyers, however, claimed that it would be without lawful authority, if the government does so.

Advocate Sana Ullah Miah, one of the counsel for the BNP

chief, said they were not aware of the matter.

“If the government conducts the trial proceedings of the case against Khaleda inside the jail, it would be without lawful authority. It cannot happen in the eye of law,” he noted.

The ACC filed the case with the Tejgaon Police Station in August, 2011, accusing Khaleda and three others of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.

The three other accused are Harris Chowdhury, political secretary to the then prime minister Khaleda Zia between 2001 and 2006, Ziaul Islam Munna, assistant private secretary (APS) to Harris, and Monirul Islam Khan, APS of former Dhaka city mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.

Meanwhile, BNP yesterday opposed the government's decision to set up a temporary court inside the Old Dhaka Central Jail to carry out the trial of Zia Charitable Trust graft case against party chief Khaleda Zia, saying that it is an anti-constitutional move, adds UNB.

Speaking at an emergency press conference at BNP chairperson's Gulshan office, party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also warned that they will announce political action programmes against the government decision.

"We've come to know the government has issued a gazette notification about shifting the makeshift court on Bakshibazar Alia Madrasah premises to Old Dhaka Central Jail to hold the trial of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's Charitable Trust case," he said.

The BNP leader further said, "We would like to say this decision is contrary to the Constitution, and the charter will be violated if it's implemented." As per article 35 (3) of the Constitution, he said the trial of such a case must be held in an open court. "We strongly condemn and protest the decision."

Fakhrul demanded the government withdraw the decision immediately and release ailing Khaleda Zia. "We think, it'll be a camera trial and we're taking the issue with due importance as the country's most popular leader's civic right is being snatched by breaching the Constitution. There's no scope to take the issue lightly."

He said they will announce political programmes soon as it is a very sensitive issue for their party.

The BNP leader said the government has kept their chairperson in jail unlawfully with various tricks even after she secured bail from the apex court.

He alleged that the government is trying to repress and harass Khaleda using different institutions and influencing the judiciary. "We think the government has taken the move to affect the next general election and thus restore one-party rule.

BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said the trial of any criminal case will have to be held in an open court as per the Constitution. "The trial inside the jail means a camera trial which is contradictory to the Constitution." Moudud, also a former law minister, said they will take legal steps against the government's decision after discussions with party leaders and lawyers.