High Court raises jail term to 10 years for Khaleda Zia in orphanage graft case

In a stunning decision, the High Court has scaled up the jail term to 10 years from five years for BNP chief Khaleda Zia in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 30 Oct 2018, 04:50 AM
Updated : 30 Oct 2018, 06:51 AM

Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman made the decision on Tuesday. 

Khaleda’s lawyers had petitioned for her acquittal in an appeal, while the Anti-Corruption Commission called for her sentence to be extended to a life term in prison.

The state argued in favour of upholding the five-year prison sentence handed down by the trial court.

In the verdict on Feb 8, Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman jailed Khaleda for five years and her son Tarique Rahman and four others for 10 years.

During the verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and ACC’s lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan were present in the court, but none of Khaleda's lawyers was there.

“Khaleda Zia was the key suspect in the case, which is why we demanded increasing her punishment. The High Court granted our appeal scaling up the punishment to 10 years from five. As a result, all defendants have the same punishment -- 10 years. The bails for other defendants were also rejected,” Khurshid Alam said after the verdict.

ELECTION WITHOUT KHALEDA

After the latest verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Khaleda would be barred from the election.

“Khaleda Zia is the main accused in the case. But the trial court sentenced her to five years in prison. Based on evidence, the High Court has extended the sentence to 10 years.”

Asked whether Khaleda would be allowed to take part in the election, Alam said: “She is convicted in the case, which means she cannot take part in the election, unless the sentence is terminated or suspended.”

Reporters referred to some cases in which people participated in the election taking advantage of their suspended jail sentences. Does Khaleda qualify for this?

Responding to that question, the attorney general said they exploited the legal loopholes. “Even if Khaleda Zia's sentence is suspended, she will be freed from jail at best, but she will not be able to participate in the election.”

Expressing his satisfaction over the latest verdict, Alam said: “Today’s verdict is a warning signal for the abuse of power by anyone, especially for politicians.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher