POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Khaleda ‘unwilling’ to appear before court
Staff Reporter

Khaleda ‘unwilling’ to appear before court

A special court set up at the Old Dhaka Central Jail yesterday adjourned till today the hearing of the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case after the prosecution informed the court about Khaleda Zia’s unwillingness to appear before it.

The special judge court-5 of Md Akhteruzzaman adjourned the hearing till today, saying that it would hold a hearing on Thursday (today) to decide whether it should continue its proceedings in absence of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia. The court will deliver today its order on the bail of Khaleda in the case and whether the trial proceedings would still continue in her absence.

Earlier, the proceedings used to take place at a makeshift court in Bakshibazar area. On September 4, the law ministry issued a gazette notification, saying the trial of the Zia Charitable Trust case would be held at the Old Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road.

It was said in the gazette notification that the decision was made after taking Khaleda's security into consideration.

During yesterday’s proceedings, advocate Sanaullah Miah, one of the counsels for Khaleda Zia, told the court that the proceedings of the case used to take place at a makeshift court in Bakshibazar area. But the government issued a gazette notification regarding the shifting of the court to the jail. This is against the spirit of the Constitution as the decision was made without consulting the Supreme Court (SC), he said.

Sanaullah also said that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and its secretary have already informed the Chief Justice about the matter.

The makeshift court is just 15 to 30 feet. There are only four chairs in the courtroom for defence lawyers. If all the defence lawyers  come here, they cannot stay together, he noted.

“We were waiting at the makeshift court in Bakshibazar for the  hearing on the previous date. But we were not informed properly about the shifting of court. Hence, we could not come to the court on September 5,” he said.

He further said the BNP chief is seriously ill. “She cannot move freely. We were informed that her hands and legs have become paralysed. Hence, she could not appear before the court. We pray to the court to extend her bail in the case,” he added.

Opposing Sanaullah’s submission, the prosecution lawyer advocate Mosarraf Hossain Kajol told the court that the case is now at the final stage. “The BNP chief is unwilling to appear before the court. She is not assisting the court. The law should take its own course. It cannot stay for any person,” he said.

Later, the court asked Sanaullah to explain why his client had not appeared before it. Sanaullah replied that the BNP chief does not get justice from this court. “Hence, she is not willing to appear before the court,” he added.

The court then said that the trial proceedings should go against Khaleda in her absence Zia as she did not appear before the court as per her own decision. Later, it adjourned hearing till today.

During the first hearing at the Old Central Jail on September 5, Khaleda was produced before the court where she expressed a lack of confidence in the special court trying the graft case.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Charitable corruption case with Tejgaon police station in August 2011, accusing Khaleda and three others of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.

On February 8, the same special court awarded Khaleda five years’ rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.  Since then, the BNP chief is languising behind bars.

The ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case with Ramna police station in July 2008, accusing six persons, including Khaleda, of misappropriating over Tk. 2.1 crore that came from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.