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8 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Zia Orphanage Trust graft case

Verdict on Khaleda today

Muhammad Yeasin
Verdict on Khaleda today

A special court in Dhaka will deliver its verdict in the much-talked- about Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, in which BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, her son Tarique Rahman and four others are accused.

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

The court heard the closing arguments for 16 working days. Overall, it heard the case for 236 working days.

It is the second time that a lower court is going to deliver its verdict in a case involving a former head of government. Earlier, a lower court had given its judgment in a case in which HM Ershad had been the accused.

The authorities have taken tight security measures across the country. Foolproof security arrangements have also been made in and around the court area to avoid any untoward incident in the aftermath of the verdict.

As per the provision of the law, the three-time premier faces up to life in prison, if found guilty on the charges. It may disqualify her from taking part in the upcoming parliamentary polls.

However, many believe the BNP chief would be able to take part in the election, even if convicted by the lower court, by appealing against the judgment in the High Court (HC).

If the HC stays or suspends the lower court verdict, the BNP chief would have no problem in taking part in the parliamentary election, feel many lawyers.

The prosecution feels all the accused, including Khaleda Zia, would get the highest sentence (life term). “We've been able to prove the allegations and expect the court to award life imprisonment to the accused in the case,” said Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kazal. The defence lawyers, however, expressed optimism that the BNP chief and others would be acquitted as the prosecution had, in their view, failed to prove any allegation against their clients.

Advocate Abdur Rezzak Khan, one of the defence lawyers, told reporters that the prosecution had failed to prove any charge against Khaleda Zia and that the case was politically motivated. “So, we hope the court will acquit the BNP chief to ensure justice,” he said.

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.

The four other accused are Salimul Haq Kamal, a former BNP lawmaker,  Sharfuddin Ahmed, a businessman, Kamal Uddin Siddique, former principal secretary to then prime minister Khaleda Zia, and Mominur Rahman, nephew of the late president Ziaur Rahman.

Of the six accused, Khaleda is on bail, while Salimul and Sharfuddin are in jail. The three others, including Tarique, are on the run.

The BNP chief approached the High Court (HC) as well as the Supreme Court (SC) for staying the trial process, but her pleas were rejected. On Dec19, last year, prosecution concluded arguments and sought the highest punishment for the BNP chief and other accused.

A day after the prosecution’s argument, a total of five defence lawyers, including barrister Moudud Ahmed, started their closing arguments. They concluded their arguments and sought Khaleda’s acquittal, saying the ACC had filed a “politically motivated” case based on forged documents.

Earlier on February 1, the same court fixed February 25–26 for hearing of arguments in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.

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

Apart from these two cases, the law ministry, on January 8 this year, shifted 16 cases filed against Khaleda to the same court at Bakshibazar in old Dhaka. The BNP chief is currently facing 37 cases on various allegations.

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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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