Koko indicted in absentia | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2010

Koko indicted in absentia

Trial of money laundering case begins Jan 4

A Dhaka court yesterday framed charges against former prime minister Khaleda Zia's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko and a former BNP minister's son in absentia in a money laundering case.
The other accused is Ismail Hossain Saimon, son of former shipping minister late Akbar Hossain.
The same court on October 31 issued arrest warrant against Koko and Saimon in connection with the case. As per the law the accused were supposed to be present in the court at the time of hearing on the charge framing and during the trial proceedings.
Judge Mozammel Hossain of the Special Judge's Court-3 fixed January 4, 2011 to start trial of this case through deposition of 23 witnesses.
The court also framed charges against the duo in their absence, as Koko and Saimon did not appear before the court or were not produced by the police.
Koko, who was arrested on September 2, 2007 on graft charges and paroled for treatment abroad in July the next year, is now in Bangkok though his parole is not in effect.
Saimon has been on the run since the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the money laundering case against him and Koko on March 17 last year.
In the case statement, the anti-graft body said the accused had laundered money they received from China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd and Siemens for helping them win government contracts.
China Harbour got a Tk 351 crore contract to set up New Mooring Container Terminal and Siemens a Tk 239 crore contract to supply and install equipment for Teletalk, the state-owned cellphone operator.
The ACC pressed charges against Koko and Saimon on November 15 last year.
As both the accused are fugitives, they did not have any legal right to appoint lawyers to defend them during hearing of charge framing. They would not be able to appoint counsels to defend the case during trial if they do not appear before the court.
The court could not read out the charges to the accused during the hearing on charge framing, as they were absent. Following prosecution submission on charges against the accused and a prayer the court framed the charges.
The trial against Koko and Saimon would continue in their absence, the court said.
Despite absence of Koko, his lawyers yesterday submitted a petition before the court seeking cancellation of the arrest warrant issued in October. The court rejected the petition.
Earlier, the same court asked Koko and Saimon to appear before it and face trial, but they did not pay heed to it.
Koko's lawyers told the court that Attorney General Mahbubey Alam on October 31 appeared before the court and appealed to the court for issuance of arrest warrant against their client. But the trial court in its order did not mention about the attorney general's submission before it. So, they prayed for correcting the order, the lawyers added.
Special Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol told the court that Koko's lawyers had no right to file any petition, as their client was earlier shown fugitive.
As per law, no petition is filed on behalf of a fugitive, Kajol said.
After hearing both the sides, the judge rejected Koko's petition and framed charges against the two.
During deposition of the witnesses, Koko's lawyers would not appear before the court to cross-examine them. As a result, the trial proceedings will be concluded within a short time, Kajol told The Daily Star.
On October 13, the Supreme Court stayed for six weeks a High Court order extending Koko's parole for 20 days. The stay came two days after the HC extended the parole.
Earlier on August 19, the home ministry cancelled the parole and asked Koko to return home by August 31 and surrender to the court.
Challenging the government decision, Koko's counsels filed a writ petition with the HC on August 24 and obtained an extension of parole for their client.

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