Bangladesh SC Rejects Khaleda Zia Bail Plea
| Virendra Kumar Gaur, Former IG, BSF - 13 Dec 2019

By VK Gaur

The BD Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the bail petition of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case for allegedly embezzling 21 million takas from the Trust.

On December 5, the full bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, had fixed December 12 to hear Khaleda's bail plea again, as the medical report was not submitted before SC.

The top court's decision had led to three-hour-long chaos created by the defence lawyers, which then unprecedentedly forced the six-member bench to leave the courtroom without finishing the day's proceedings.

The Bangladesh High Court on July 31 rejected Khaleda’s bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case, prompting her counsels to move the apex court on November 14.

Khaleda moved the apex court on November 14 challenging a High Court Division order that had turned down her bail petition in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.

Bangladesh High Court on September 11 had rejected her bail petition. Khaleda’s bail plea had been turned down twice before – on July 31 and September 3.

On August 8, 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Zia Charitable Trust case with Tejgaon police against four people, including Khaleda.

The Zia Charitable Trust corruption case refers to an ongoing corruption case in Bangladesh that relates to corruption over the misuse of funds in a charity named after former President Ziaur Rahman.

Khaleda Zia, a three-time former Prime Minister of Bangladesh is one of the accused in the case. She is accused of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.

A special court jailed the BNP chief and three others for seven years in the case on October 29 last year. Khaleda later moved the High Court.

The former prime minister has been in jail since February 8 last year after she was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in a separate corruption case.

She is currently being treated at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. Her party has been accusing the government of not providing adequate treatment facilities to Khaleda.

Begum Khaleda is known for her anti-India stance. During her rule insurgents from NE India were harboured by her government. The dream plan of Mughalastan was drawn by her top aides and ISI operatives in BD.

Reacting on the development, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir today said that the entire nation was stunned over the Supreme Court's judgment that rejected its Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s bail prayer in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.

“We are disappointed and aggrieved over the rejection of the bail petition of Khaleda Zia. The entire nation was stunned as well,” Fakhrul came up with the remarks while talking to reporters after a meeting at the party chief Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office in Dhaka this evening.

Zainul Abedin and Khandaker Mahbub Hossain led Khaleda’s team of lawyers during the hearing, while Attorney General Mabubey Alalm the state and Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan stood for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which filed the case.

During the hearing, Zainul demanded bail for the BNP chief on humanitarian grounds while referring to the case of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “Even Pakistan’s higher court had granted bail to Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds, and he was allowed to go to London for treatment.”

He also claimed that Khaleda’s physical condition had worsened so much that doctors cannot even inject medicine into her body. “If this situation continues, she will die.”

NATIONWIDE DEMO ON SUNDAY  

As part of the programme to free Khaleda Zia from jail, BNP will stage a demonstration and bring out processions across the country to press home their demand. Leaders and activists of the party will hold rally and bring out processions at thana-level headquarters across Dhaka on the day, Fakhrul said.     

BNP will also come up with next course of programme immediately to ensure release of Khaleda Zia from jail, the party secretary general said.

“We strongly believe that the people with their enthusiastic participation in the protest programme would force the government to cancel result of the December 30 national election and to hold a fresh election under a nonparty and neutral government and election commission,” he said.

Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the government has nothing to do with Khaleda Zia's corruption case.

"The judiciary is enjoying full freedom under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's rule. The case against Khaleda Zia is a corruption case. So, there's nothing to do by the government with it," Quader, also road, transport and bridges minister, told journalists while speaking at the triennial council of Kurigram district Awami League in Kurigram.

WHAT IS THE ZIA CHARITABLE TRUST CORRUPTION CASE?

Bangladesh Anti Corruption Commission filed the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case in Tejgaon Police Station on 8 August 2011.

The case accused four people including former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The other accused are Harris Chowdhury, former political secretary to Khaleda Zia, Ziaul Islam Munna, incumbent acting director of naval security and traffic in Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, and the personal assistant to the former mayor of Dhaka, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, Monirul Islam Khan.

The Anti Corruption Commission filed another related case on 3 July 2008 over corruption in the Zia Orphanage. There were six accused in this case including Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman. The case accused them embezzling 21 million taka from the trust.

On 24 February 2015 an arrest warrant was issued by the court against Khaleda Zia in the case.

The arrest warrant was issued after she skipped a number of court dates. She surrendered to the court and received bail on 5 April 2015. The prosecution did not oppose her bail petition.

After 10 years of ongoing trial In 8 February 2018 Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman as per court verdict, were jailed for 5 and 10 years respectively due to involvement in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case. While Tarique Rahman, who has been staying in London since 2008, was on exile, Khaleda would be imprisoned on old Dhaka Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road.

The verdict also jailed Quazi Salimul Haq Kamal, Kamal Uddin Siddique, Mominur Rahman, and Sharfuddin Ahmed.

On 29 October 2018 BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and three others including Harris Chowdhury, former political secretary to the then PM Khaleda as per supreme court verdict were sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.

Khaleda and the other convicts were also fined Tk 10 lakh each, in default of which they will have to serve six more months in jail, according to the verdict.

This is the highest punishment under the existing law. The court also ordered to attach in favour of the state the 42 kathas of land which was purchased under the name of the trust.

Photo 3 Caption - Lawyers supporting the Bangladesh Nationalist Party go out on demonstration at the Supreme Court premises after the Appellate Division rejected a bail prayer by party chairperson Khaleda Zia on Thursday. Photo by Abdullah Apu/ NewAgeBd

Image credit - NTV BD

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