The Ninth Special Judge Court of Dhaka on Wednesday deferred the charge framing in the Niko graft case against BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and 10 others for the second time. Judge Mohammad Aminul Islam of the court fixed April 12 for hearing on the charge framing after the on the defence plea for time.Khaleda Zia could not appear to the court yesterday (Wednesday), like the last such occasion of December 28 due to her illness.
The Anti Corruption Commission filed the case on Dec 9, 2007 after BNP Chairperson was arrested by the military-backed caretaker government. Charges were pressed against 11 people, including Khaleda, on May 5, 2008, for allegedly causing a loss of Tk 137.77 billion to the State by awarding the gas exploration contract to Canadian company, the Niko Resources.
Other ten accused persons are- for law minister Barrister Moudud Ahmed, former state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain, former acting energy secretary Khandaker Shahidul Islam,former principal Dr Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, former senior assistant secretary CM Yusuf Hossain, former BAPEX general manager Meer Moinul Haque,former secretary Shafiur Rahman, businessman Gias Uddin Al Mamun,Dhaka Club’s former President Selim Bhuiyan, and Kashem Sharif and Vice-Presidnt (South Asia) of Niko Resources Bangladesh Limited.
The High Court Division of the Supreme Court on July 9, 2008 stayed proceedings of the graft case and issued a ruling after Khaleda Zia filed a petition seeking adjournment. Later, the stay order was upheld by the Appellate Division.
The case was stuck for the last seven years until the ACC moved to revive it last year.
On Jun 18, 2015, the High Court rejected Khaleda Zia’s move questioning the legality of the case and also lifted the freeze on the case proceedings. It had also directed her to surrender to the court within two months after receiving the court order. Later, on Nov 30, last year, Khaleda Zia surrendered to the trial court and secured bail in the case.