The Dhaka Special Judge’s Court-5 on Thursday handed down Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia to five-year imprisonment and her elder son and BNP’s senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman to 10-year jail in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case filed in 2008.
Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman announced the sensational verdict in a packed and high-guarded makeshift courtroom set up at Bakshibazar in the capital where Khaleda Zia along with two other accused — former BNP lawmaker Qazi Saleemul Huq and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed — was present.
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.
Ahead of the verdict, the government tightened security across the country arresting several thousand BNP leaders and activists and banning any gathering and procession in Dhaka for today.
Members of paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh were deployed in BNP strongholds, including Bogra, Narayanganj, Lakshmipur, Chandpur and Noakhali.
On January 25, Akhtaruzzaman, who convicted 850 people in BDR munity cases in 2013, set today for verdict concluding the hearing in the case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission on July 3, 2008 during military-controlled interim regime.
During the trial, 36 prosecution witnesses testified.
Khaleda’s trial came to an end within two weeks after prime minister Sheikh Hasina announced in a televised speech on January 12 that parliamentary elections would be held in December.
Article 66(2)(d) of the constitution stipulates, ‘A person shall be disqualified for election as, or for being, a member of parliament who has been, on conviction for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.’