Dhaka, August 11, 2016: Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia and her party leaders on Wednesday appeared in four sessions and magistrate’s courts in Dhaka for charge hearing and securing bail in 12 of cases corruption, sedition, and political violence. NEWAGE
Two of the cases filed during military-backed interim regime in 2007-2008 on graft charges, nine were filed for political violence and arson
in the capital’s Darussalam area during blockade enforced by the BNP-led alliance in 2015 and the rest one was filed on sedition charge for doubting the figure of people martyred in the Liberation War.
Amid tight security in the rainy day, Khaleda and BNP leaders, many of whom were also accused, first surrendered to the Metropolitan Special Tribunal-1 seeking bail in the arson cases and the sedition case.
The tribunal judge, Kamrul Hossain Mollah, took cognisance of the charge sheet submitted by police in the sedition case filed by Supreme Court lawyer Momtaz Uddin Ahmad Mehedi, also the ruling Awami League’s central committee member, on January 25.
During the hearing, additional public prosecutor Shah Alam argued that the tribunal should take cognisance of the charge.
Khaleda’s chief counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain opposed the prosecutor arguing that the case was not filed by the government but by an individual.
The tribunal said the government might sanction the filing of any sedition case by an individual. ‘I may be wrong…My note will be herewith and High Court will consider the matter later on,’ the tribunal said, announcing, ‘The charge [sheet] is accepted.’
His announcement triggered clamour in the packed courtroom.
Then the tribunal started hearing arguments on the charge sheets in eight other cases filed under the Special Powers Act for setting vehicles on fire in Darussalam area in February and March 2015.
Khaleda’s counsel Sana Ullah Miah said that Khaleda was confined to her office when the vehicles were set on fire.
Prosecutor Musharraf Hossain Kajol argued that Khaleda had helped the arsonists.
Amid slogan chanted outside for Khaleda, the tribunal also accepted the five charge sheets against Khaleda and dozens other leaders.
The tribunal also set October 10 for the next proceedings in five arson cases and the sedition case.
The trial proceedings of the rest three arson cases were deferred to September 7.
Khaleda along with her lawyers moved to the Special Judge’s Court-2 on the fifth floor of a sixth storey building.
Earlier on July 24, the Special Court judge fixed August 10 for physical appearance of nine accused, including the Khaleda in the Barapukuria coalmine corruption case.
On February 26, 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case with Shahbagh police station accusing 16 people, including Khaleda and 10 of her former cabinet colleagues, of taking Tk 159 crore in kickbacks on the Barapukuria coalmine deal awarded to the highest bidder.
After brief hearing in the Barapukuria graft case, special judge Hosne Ara Begum posted the next hearing for September 8.
Khaleda then moved to the Special Judge’s Court-9 in a separate building in the court complex.
Special judge Aminul Islam in July fixed August 10 for the charge framing in Niko graft case against Khaleda and 10 others including her then cabinet colleagues Moudud Ahmed and KM Musharraf Hossain.
On December 9, 2007, the commission filed the case accusing Khaleda and four others of causing a loss of Tk 137.77 crore to the national exchequer by signing an oil and gas exploration agreement with Niko.
On May 5, 2008, the commission submitted the charge sheet in the case to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.
The High Court on July 9, 2008 stayed the case as Khaleda filed a petition challenging the legality of the case. The Appellate Division later upheld the stay order.
On June 18, 2015, the High Court rejected Khaleda’s petition and lifted the stay order.
On Wednesday, the judge, Aminul Islam, accepted the charge sheet against Khaleda and 10 others amid repeated appeal by defence counsel and Moudud Ahmed for time to take preparation for the hearing.
Khaleda’s defence counsel AJ Mohammad Ali said they would challenge the decision to the High Court.
Prosecutor Musharraf Hossain Kajol started making his arguments in the hearing on framing of charges in the case.
The judge posted for August 16 the next charge hearing.
Finally, Khaleda moved to the court of metropolitan magistrate Nurun Nahar who granted her bail in another case of arson attack in Darussalam area. NEWAGE