Sunday, 21 April, 2019

Khaleda gets 7-year imprisonment in Zia Charitable Trust graft case

Published on: 8:17 pm - Monday | October 29, 2018


A Dhaka court today sentenced BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia to seven years in prison, the maximum punishment under the act concerned, in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case, the second graft charge in which the ex-premier was convicted.

Three others, including Khaleda’s former political secretary Haris Chowdhury, were also awarded seven-year imprisonment each in the case.

Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of Dhaka Special Judge Court-5 delivered the verdict around 12.10 noon. The court also fined them Taka 10 lakh each, in default, to suffer six months more in jail.

The court also ordered confiscation of 42 kathas of land bought in the name of Zia Charitable Trust in favour of the state.

The court started reading out the judgement at about 11.20 am at the crowded courtroom set up inside the former central jail in capital’s Nazimuddin Road area.

Of the four accused, Ziaul Islam Munna and Monirul Islam Khan were produced before the court ahead of the verdict, while Haris is yet to be arrested and Khaleda Zia is in prison cell at BSMMU after getting convicted in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.

The court in its observation said such corruption from country’s top post holder is completely unexpected.

The court came up with the judgement as the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by Begum Khaleda Zia against a lower court order to try the BNP chairperson in her absence in the graft case.

“Dismissed,” said an Appellate Division full bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain as the matter came on the cause list this morning. The Dhaka Special Judge Court-5 on October 16 set the date on 29 October to pronounce judgement in the case as the defence repeatedly refrained from taking part in the hearing on arguments in the case.

“Khaleda Zia took time for around 40 times during the hearing of the case. She didn’t appear before the court citing her confinement in another case, even refrained from appearing before court over health reason. One day she informed the court that she will not appear before it anymore,” Attorney General Advocate Mahbubey Alam said yesterday.

He also said, “The court at that stage had to set date to hear arguments in her absence. But none from her 126-member strong defence team appeared before the court also, making the court to set date for pronouncing judgment.”

“Khaleda’s counsels repeatedly wasted time of the court by filing time plea. They do not take part in any kind of legal proceedings but plead for bail whenever the bail period gets finished,” Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) counsel Mosharraf Hossain Kazal said earlier.

On October 14, the High Court rejected a revision plea filed by BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia, upholding a lower court order that had said it would continue the graft case proceedings in her absence.

The lower court on September 20 passed the order, saying it would hold hearing of the case in Khaleda’s absence as she was “unwilling” to appear at the makeshift court complex inside the Old Dhaka Central Jail.

The ACC filed the case with capital’s Tejgaon Police Station on August 8, 2010, for embezzling Taka 3.15 crore while police on January 16, 2012, filed charge sheet against four including the ex-premier.

The other accused are Khaleda’s former political secretary Haris Chowdhury, the then BIWTA director Ziaul Islam Munna and Monirul Islam Khan, former personal secretary of former Dhaka city mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka.

The court framed charges against Khaleda and others in the case on March 19, 2014.

The BNP chairperson is now serving a five-year jail term in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. (BSS)

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