Khaleda jailed for 5 years

Khaleda sentenced to 5 years in prison

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Dhaka, 08 Feb – In a major development, a Dhaka Special Judge’s Court yesterday sentenced BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia for five years imprisonment and her eldest son and BNP’s senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman and four others for 10 years in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case filed in 2008.
The court also fined Tarique and the four Tk 2,10,71,000.Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman delivered sensational verdict at 2.29 pm in a jam-packed and high-guarded makeshift courtroom set up at Bakshibazar in Dhaka where Khaleda Zia along with two other accused — former BNP lawmaker Qazi Saleemul Huq and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed — was present. The judge readout the operative part of the judgement within minutes.
Three other accused — BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, former prime minister Khaleda’ ex-principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddique, and Ziaur Rahman’s nephew Mominur Rahman — were tried in their absence.
It is the second time that a lower court has convicted a former head of government in connection with corruption case. Earlier, a lower court had given its judgment in a case in which HM Ershad had been the accused.
The authorities took tight security measures across the country. Foolproof security arrangements have also been made in and around the court area to avoid any untoward incident in the aftermath of the verdict.
Although the three times former premier wearing off-while sari Khaleda Zia started her journey from her Gulshan residence on the way to court for hearing the verdict, but she had to wait at the street at about 3 hours as her followers made a huge showdown from Mogbazar to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Finally, she reached at courtroom at 1.51pm and the judge entered into the courtroom at 2. 12 pm and starting to deliver the verdict saying that it is a big case, which containing 632-page verdict.
“I will not read out full judgement. I will read some relevant part of the verdict,” the judge said.
After elaborating case history, the court delivered the verdict saying, “The prosecution has able to prove the allegations brought against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. As the prosecution has been proved the allegations against Tarique Rahman and four others, the court awarded them each for ten years rigorous imprisonment and fined them Tk 2, 10,71,000 under the section 409 and 109 of the penal code,” according to the verdict.
It also said, “Although the allegations brought against BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia have been proved beyond reasonable doubt, the court sentence Khaleda Zia to five years rigorous imprisonment considering her age and social status.”
In its verdict, the court said that trial proceedings of the case was delayed for long times as the defence lawyers moved before the higher court to halt the trial proceedings of the case.
Even after submitting the charge sheet against the accused persons, the case proceedings also halted for several times following the no confidence petitions filed by the accused persons against the concerned judges.
The BNP chief filed no confidence petition against this court, but the trial proceedings had started on September 22 in 2017 after the High Court as well as the Appellate Division rejected the no confidence petition.
The BNP chairperson has taken a total of 39 times during the last one year of the trial period.
However, the court heard the closing arguments for 16 working days. Overall, it heard the case for 236 working days and recorded a total of 32 witnesses’ statements during the trial proceedings, the court said.
Soon after the deliberation of the verdict, the judge left the courtroom quickly and the pro-BNP lawyers shouted saying that ‘no, no it is a false and fabricated case’.
Khaleda Zia, who was hearing verdict sitting in the chair at the courtroom, was cordoned off by the law enforcers soon after the verdict and imposed restriction in movement of pro-BNP lawyers.
However, some pro-BNP lawyers including Moudud Ahmed, Jamir Uddin Sircar, Abdur Rezzaque Khan, AJ Mohammad Ali, Mahbub Uddin Khokan and Sanaullah Mia—met with BNP chairperson inside the courtroom and took advice from her for next course of action.
In an immediate reaction, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told journalists at the courtroom that it is totally false and fabricated politically motivated case.
“This is a politically decorated verdict. The country’s people cannot accept this verdict and the people confidence will also lose from the court,” he added.
Defence counsel Moudud Ahmed said that they would appeal before the High Court against the verdict after getting the certified copy of the verdict.
The BNP chief is now facing around 36 cases filed with different courts and police stations across the country.
After the death of her husband President Ziaur Rahman, Khaleda Zia was elected party chairperson at a party council in 1984. Since then, she has been serving as the party chairperson.
She had played a significant role during the anti-Ershad movement in 1990. Khaleda became the country first female prime minister following the victory of BNP in the 1991 general election. She also served as Prime Minister for a short-lived government in 1996. In the next round of general election of 1996, the Awami League came to power.
Khaleda again became Prime Minister when her party came to power again in 2001.
After her government’s term ended in 2006, the scheduled January 2007 elections were delayed due to political violence and infighting, resulting in a bloodless military takeover of the caretaker government.
During its interim rule, it charged Zia and her two sons –Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko — with corruption. She was arrested on September 3, 2007 and sent to jail. She secured bail on September 11, 2008.
Her son Koko died of heart attack in Malaysia in 2015 and her elder son Tarique has been staying in the UK along with his family.
Khaleda was thrown out of power after her party’s defeat in the 2008 general election arranged by the caretaker government.
After a number of movements during a period of severe political unrest between 2012 and 2014 to prevent ruling Awami League from holding the 10th general election in January 2014 without a neutral caretaker government, the Khaleda-led BNP and its alliances boycotted the election.
After conviction, Khaleda Zia was taken to Old Dhaka central jail on Najumuddin Road from Special Court-5 at Bakshibazar. Khaleda left the court in a white car around 3pm and reached the jail gate around 3:13 pm.
Earlier on January 25, Judge Akhtaruzzaman fixed the date for announcing the verdict after the defence had closed their arguments in the case.
However, BNP turned down the verdict against its chairperson and five others, and urged people to take to the streets to register their protests in a peaceful manner.
“This verdict is an anti-people one. It has gone against people’s expectations. It was given only to appease one person. Justice is denied here,” said BNP’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Forty minutes after the announcement of the verdict, the BNP leader came up with the instant reaction at the party’s Nayapaltan central office.
Rizvi said the country’s people have rejected the verdict with hatred. “We strongly condemned and protested it.” – Special Correspondent

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