The trial court judge, whose verdict had found BNP leader Tarique Rahman innocent of money laundering charges, was ‘influenced’, Law Minister Anisul Huq has said.“The judge fled to Malaysia with his family two days after delivering the verdict. He has not returned despite being served a notice,” he told the media on Thursday.His remark came after the High Court overturned the verdict and convicted the BNP senior vice-chairman.BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s son has been sentenced to seven years in jail and fined Tk 20 million.In November 2013, the court of Dhaka’s Third Special Judge Md Motahar Hossain acquitted him of charges levelled by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).
It had, however, convicted his close business associate Giasuddin-Al-Mamun. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Tk 400 million.The High Court on Thursday upheld Mamun’s jail term but commuted his financial penalty to Tk 200 million.Lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, who stood for the ACC in the trial court, said the judge had applied for a five-day leave the day after he delivered the judgement.A month and half later, on Jan 1, 2014, Justice Motahar Hossain went on to retire, Kajal told bdnews24.com.The ACC lawyer could not, however, confirm whether his leave had been approved or whether he conducted trials even after the money-laundering verdict.A month after his retirement, the ACC began a probe into what it described as Hossain’s ‘illegal assets’. It questioned two court stenographers, Hossain’s driver, and his bodyguard.Speaking to the media in his office on Thursday, the law minister said he had never spoken of the judge until now. “I am saying this now because it has been proved in the High Court that his judgment was wrong.”Asked if Tarique, living in the UK since 2008, could appeal against the HC verdict in the Supreme Court, Huq said, “He can do so only if we are able bring him back or he turns himself in.”Replying to a query on the possibility of bringing him back, the minister said the government had not initiated the process in earnest until now, as the BNP leader had not been convicted. “Now we will start it.”He, however, mentioned that Bangladesh did not have an extradition treaty with the UK.“There is a possibility through the Interpol. If a treaty is needed, we will start discussions,” added the minister.Huq said the government will pursue every legal measure to bring Tarique back and make him serve his sentence.