Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Khaleda Zia jailed for 5yrs, Tarique 10yrs

Published on: 7:04 pm - Thursday | February 8, 2018

Amid heightening tensions and various speculations, a special court here on Thursday convicted former prime minister and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the much-talked-about Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.

Five other accused in the case, including her son and BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment each. The court also fined the five accused Tk 2.10 crore each, reports UNB.

After Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, Khaleda is the second head of the government who got convicted in a graft case.

Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of the special court-5 handed down the verdict in the sensational case in his crowded courtroom at 2:30 pm amid tight security in and around the court.

The judge started reading out the summary of the 632-page verdict in presence of Khaleda Zia at 2:12 pm.

After conviction, Khaleda Zia was taken to Old Dhaka central jail on Najumuddin Road from Special Court-5 at Bakshibazar. Khaleda left the court in a white car around 3pm and reached the jail gate around 3:13 pm.

Earlier on January 25, Judge Akhtaruzzaman fixed the date for announcing the verdict after the defence had closed their arguments in the case.

However, BNP turned down the verdict against its chairperson and five others, and urged people to take to the streets to register their protests in a peaceful manner.

“This verdict is an anti-people one. It has gone against people’s expectations. It was given only to appease one person. Justice is denied here,” said BNP’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.

Forty minutes after the announcement of the verdict, the BNP leader came up with the instant reaction at the party’s Nayapaltan central office.

Rizvi said the country’s people have rejected the verdict with hatred. “We strongly condemned and protested it.”

Hours after the verdict against BNP chief Khaleda Zia in a graft case, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the verdict has proved that no one is above the law, and the rule of law is prevailing in the country.

“By pronouncing the verdict, our judiciary has once again proved that no one in the country is above the law, no matter how powerful he or she is,” he said.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on July 3, 2008 with Ramna Police Station accusing Khaleda, her eldest son Tarique Rahman, now living in the UK, and four others of misappropriating over 2.10 crore that came as grants from a foreign bank for orphans.

Four other accused are former BNP MP Salimul Haq Kamal and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed, former principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddique and Mominur Rahman, nephew of late President Ziaur Rahman.
Kamal Uddin Siddique and Mominur Rahman have long been absconding.

The BNP chief is now facing around 36 cases filed with different courts and police stations across the country.

After the death of her husband President Ziaur Rahman, Khaleda Zia was elected party chairperson at a party council in 1984. Since then, she has been serving as the party chairperson.

She had played a significant role during the anti-Ershad movement in 1990. Khaleda became the country first female prime minister following the victory of BNP in the 1991 general election. She also served as Prime Minister for a short-lived government in 1996. In the next round of general election of 1996, the Awami League came to power.

Khaleda again became Prime Minister when her party came to power again in 2001.

After her government’s term ended in 2006, the scheduled January 2007 elections were delayed due to political violence and infighting, resulting in a bloodless military takeover of the caretaker government.

During its interim rule, it charged Zia and her two sons –Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko — with corruption. She was arrested on September 3, 2007 and sent to jail. She secured bail on September 11, 2008.

Her son Koko died of heart attack in Malaysia in 2015 and her elder son Tarique has been staying in the UK along with his family.

Khaleda was thrown out of power after her party’s defeat in the 2008 general election arranged by the caretaker government.

After a number of movements in a period of severe political unrest between 2012 and 2014 to prevent ruling Awami League from holding the 10th general election in January 2014 without a neutral caretaker government, the Khaleda-led BNP and its alliances boycotted the election.

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