Dhaka, October 30 – BNP Chairperson and former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and three others were yesterday imprisoned for seven years in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case. The court also fined them Tk 10 lakh each, in default, to suffer six months more in jail. Judge Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Court-5 pronounced the verdict on Monday noon in the graft case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on August 11, 2011, for embezzlement of Tk 3,15,43,000. Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman had jailed Khaleda also in the Zia Orphanage Trust Graft case for five years.
The three other convicted in the case are Harris Chowdhury, political secretary of the former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Ziaul Islam Munna, assistant private secretary to Harris and Monirul Islam Munna, APS to former Dhaka city Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
The court started reading out the verdict at 11:25 am. Law enforcement agencies took all necessary preparations to tackle any possible chaos on the occasion of pronouncement of the verdict.
On October 16, the Judge fixed October 29 for pronouncement of the verdict after completing the trial proceedings of the case.
Earlier on Monday, the appellate division of the Supreme Court cleared the way for the lower court concerned to continue the trial in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case in Khaleda Zia’s absence.
The appellate division earlier in the day rejected a leave-to-appeal petition filed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia seeking cancellation of the High Court order clearing the way for the continuation of the trial proceedings in the case in her absence.
A seven-member bench of the appellate division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order.
On September 20, Judge Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Judge Court 5 decided to continue the trial proceedings in the absence of the main accused.
On September 27, the BNP chairperson filed the writ petition with the High Court challenging a lower court’s decision.
The BNP Chairperson is now undergoing treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) under a special medical board formed by the government.
BNP Chief Khaleda Zia is already in the prison since February 8 of this year, serving a five-year term after conviction in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The court also imprisoned her son Tarique Rahman, now the acting chairman of BNP, and four others for 10 years and fined them Tk 2.1 crore, saying all six convicts would have to pay the fine in equal amounts.
The four other convicts are- Qazi Saleemul Huq, an ex-BNP MP from Magura, Sharfuddin Ahmed, a businessman, Mominur Rahman, a cousin of Tarique, and Kamal Uddin Siddique, former Principal Secretary to the Government.
Of them, Mominur Rahman and Kamal Siddique are on the run while Saleemul Huq and Sharfuddin were sent to the prison on February 8.
The sentence of the fugitives will be effective from the day of their arrest or surrender. – Special Correspondent