A day after receiving the certified copy of the lower court verdict, lawyers of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia filed an appeal with the High Court challenging her sentence in the Zia Orphanage Trust case on Tuesday afternoon. The HC is expected to hear the admissibility of the petition on Thursday
Barrister Kaiser Kamal, law affairs secretary of BNP, said they filed the appeal around 3:30 pm with the High Court against Khaleda’s conviction in the graft case by a special court here.
The court set February 22 to hear the appeal after it was placed before a bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Shahidul Karim, he said.
The BNP lawyers will also file a petition with the High Court seeking Khaleda’s bail on Thursday.
“As BNP law affairs secretary, I on behalf of our chairperson, filed the 1223-page appeal where our senior counsel Abdur Rezak Khan’s name was mentioned as the filing lawyer,” Kaiser Kamal told UNB.
He said they showed over 40 grounds for acquittal of Khaleda and prayed to the Court to stay the trial court’s verdict that convicted her.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said they will file a petition seeking bail for Khaleda on Thursday after the HC bench accepts the appeal. “We hope the court will grant her bail.”
Earlier on Monday, Khaleda’s lawyer Sanaullah Mia received the 1174-page copy of the verdict, 10 days after it was pronounced.
Meanwhile, Khaleda’s lawyers held several meetings on Monday night and Tuesday morning to take preparations for filing the appeal.
On February 8 last, the court read out a 632-page summarised version of the verdict and on Monday it released the full 1174-page copy of the verdict.
The special court-5 convicted the former Prime Minister and BNP chairperson and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
She was then sent to old central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the city.
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.
Though pro-BNP lawyers and the party are claiming that Khaleda will get bail and she will be eligible for the next general election after filing an appeal with the apex court, legal and election experts have no clear answer to it as they think it fully depends on the apex court.
As per Article 66(2) (d) of the Constitution, anyone sentenced to jail for a term not less than two years for ethical or moral misconduct, and until five years have elapsed since the date of his/her release shall be disqualified for the contesting the parliamentary election.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said there are two verdicts of the Supreme Court and the High Court in this regard. “One verdict says until the disposal of the appeal the case proceeding is considered incomplete and the person is not convicted. So, the convicted person will be able to take part in polls.”
However, the other verdict says the convicted person cannot take part in the national election with having an appeal against the lower court conviction pending. “So, the apex court and the Election Commission will decide it now.”