Ruckus at Khaleda’s graft case hearing

Pandemonium has erupted in a Dhaka courtroom during the hearing of witness deposition in the graft case against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

Published : 15 Jan 2015, 06:31 AM
Updated : 15 Jan 2015, 06:58 AM

Her lawyers opposed hearing of witnesses who would testify in her absence, sparking disagreement on Thursday.

The hearing of Zia Orphanage Trust graft case was being held in Dhaka's Third Metropolitan Special Judges Court set up at Bakshibazar's Alia Madrasa ground amid the BNP-sponsored nationwide blockade.

Khaleda’s lawyers said she could not appear at the court due to her ‘confinement’ at her Gulshan office and asked for more time. The court took cognisance of the matter.

The fracas erupted when Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar disallowed the plea of delaying witness deposition and started hearing the testimony of the plaintiff, Anti Corruption Commission Deputy Director Harun Ur Rashid.

The hearing resumed once the situation calmed down.

Towards the end of the plaintiff’s testimony the defence lawyers once again started the ruckus questioning the reliability of the judge.

Witness deposition in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case started Jan 7.

Four days prior to that, Khaleda was confined in her Gulshan office cordoned off by the police.

The BNP called a strike on Thursday protesting an attack on Khaleda Zia’s Adviser Reaz Rahman amid the party-led alliance’s nationwide indefinite blockade.

Earlier, the BNP chief’s lawyer Mahbub Uddin Khokon had said in the morning that she would not be going to court.

The former prime minister’s trial had started after charges were framed against her in the two cases on Mar 19 last year.

In Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, Khaleda’s son and BNP’s Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman is also accused.

Former Magura MP Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal, former bureaucrat Kamaluddin Siddiqui, businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed and Ziaur Rahman’s nephew Maminur Rahman are among the other accused.

Salimul Haque and Sharfuddin are out on on bail, while Sidddiqui and Rahman are absconding since the hearing began.

The ACC had filed the case over the alleged embezzlement of more than Tk 21 million given by a foreign bank as aid for the orphans.

Plaintiff Rashid submitted the charge-sheet on Aug 5, 2009.

He is also the plaintiff in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case. In this case, the accused are charged with siphoning off over Tk 31.5 million.

The other people accused in the case are Khaleda’s former political secretary Harris Chowdhury, his personal secretary and BIWTA’s security and traffic department’s acting director Ziaul Islam Munna and former Dhaka mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka’s personal secretary Monirul Islam Khan.

Harris Chowdhury is on the run ever since the hearing started. He also has an arrest warrant for him.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher