Ershad acquitted of radar purchase case

Ershad acquitted of radar purchase case

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A Dhaka court yesterday acquitted Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, former chiefs of Air Force Momtaz Uddin Ahmed and Sultan Mahmud, and the then United Traders’ director AKM Musa of charges in 24-year-old radar purchase scam case.In a jam-packed courtroom, Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah delivered the verdict in presence of HM Ershad and two others.
In the judgment, the judge said the prosecution failed to prove the charges brought against them.
“The prosecution has failed to prove the allegations on how the accused persons loose the state fund. Even, the witnesses were also not mentioned any allegations against the accused persons, which is created doubt before the court about their corruption,” the verdict said.
The court however, said that the important witnesses of this case were the then defence secretary MA Anisuzzaman and then law minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury. Their witnesses’ statements were not recorded or taken for this case. Hence, the prosecution has failed to prove the allegations brought against the accused persons, the verdict noted.
The now-defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption filed the case against former president Ershad and three others in 1992. Ershad in collusion with others allegedly caused a loss of Tk 64.04 crore to the state exchequer by purchasing radars from the USA while he was in power, according to the case statement.
On August 12, 1995, the trial court framed charges against Ershad, former air chiefs Sultan Mahmud and Mamtazuddin Ahmed and United Traders Ltd director AKM Musa. Musa has been absconding since then.
During yesterday’s verdict, all three accused except absconding Musa were present before the court. Musa has already died in the meantime, concerned lawyer said.
After the verdict, Advocate Shamsuddin Bablu and Sheikh Sirajul Islam, couunsel for Ershad and others, expressed satisfaction and said that their clients were not involved in any corruption.
However, the ACC lawyer Mir Ahmed Ali Salam, told reporters that after getting the full copy of the verdict they would take decision on filing appeal with the High Court against the verdict.
The lower court came up with the verdict just after a month of the Supreme Court order that had on March 20 asked lower court to resume trial of a 24-year-old radar purchase corruption case against Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad and three others.
A three-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha passed the order after dismissing a petition filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission seeking its order to ask the lower court to record some other witness statement as the lower court had only recorded statements of 12 witnesses.
After the apex court order, the trial court heard arguments from the both sides and delivered its verdict Wednesday.

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