Weak charges get Tarique acquittal
Published: 2013-11-18 01:01:27.0 BdST Updated: 2013-11-18 01:07:10.0 BdST
The court has blamed 'weak' framing of charges and 'flaws' in investigation for the acquittal of BNP's senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman in a case for illegally siphoning off money.
But Tarique's close business associate Giasuddin-Al-Mamun has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Tk 400 million for complicity in the case.
Md Motahar Hossain of the Special Judges' Court-3 pronounced the verdict on Sunday.
The ACC had lodged the case with the Dhaka Cantonment Police Station on Oct 26, 2009, accusing them of siphoning off Tk 204.1 million to Singapore between 2003 and 2007.
The trial of Tarique and Mamun had begun on July 6, 2010, after the ACC filed a charge-sheet against them at the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.
According to the case details, Mamun took Tk 204.1 million as bribes from Khadiza Islam, Director of Nirman Construction Ltd, promising the contract of building an 80MW power plant at Tongi.
Mamun allegedly deposited the money in the Capital Street Branch of Singapore’s City Bank, from where Tarique withdrew Tk 30.78 million.
The last part of the 37-page verdict said Tarique had not refuted spending the money and it was mentioned in an income return document filed with the ACC in 2007.
It was not proven that Tarique had committed a crime under the Money Laundering Act.
A senior lawyer of the court told bdnews24.com: "It is clear from the verdict's observation that Tarique had been acquitted due to the weakness in charge framing and flawed investigation."
The verdict said the case's chief witness Khadiza Islam, Director of Nirman Construction Ltd, had said in her testimony that she had given the amount as 'consultancy fee' to Mamun not as bribe.
Mamun, too, had admitted to accepting the amount in his statement.
However, Mamun did not have a consultancy firm for which he could have taken the amount as fee, the court said and added that the amount was realised unethically by creating pressure.
The court said an extortion case had been filed with the Cantonment police during the past caretaker government. The amount was accepted abroad as there would been various problems had it been taken in the country. This is a punishable offense under the Money Laundering Act.
Judge Hossain said Khadiza had not told the court that Tarique had demanded bribe or pressurised her to give her the company the work. Tarique had not given a confessional statement in the court under Section 164 and no document was presented at the court that proved Tarique had taken the money.
He said the claim that Tarique had pressurised Khadiza through Mamun to demand the money was also not believable.
Moreover, the plaintiff also did not claim that there was a bank account in Tarique's name at Singapore City Bank.
Overall, the prosecution had failed to prove that Tarique had used Mamun and threatened to get the amount.
For this, Tarique was acquitted of the charges and Mamun was given a seven-year imprisonment term, the highest term the Act provides.
The judge said Mamun's time behind bars would be deducted from the sentence.
He ordered publication of a gazette to get back Tk 204.01 million from Mamun's Singapore bank account and deposit them in the government's treasury. It have to be published in two widely circulated newspapers as advertisements.
Witness deposition in the case had started on Sep 11, 2011.
FBI official Debra Leprovet had testified in the case.
Five defence witnesses had testified.
Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia's elder son Tarique was not present since the lodging of the case.
He had been living in London since 2008 after securing a bail from the Supreme Court.
Tarique was arrested on Mar 7, 2007, during the state of emergency.
In September next year, after securing a bail from the Supreme Court, he went to the UK citing medical reasons.
He has been in London ever since, even attending some BNP events in the city in recent weeks.
This is the first of the 16 cases filed against him to be resolved.
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