ACC should be abolished
A defence counsel in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case yesterday argued that the Anti-Corruption Commission should be abolished immediately to stop harassment of people.
“ACC chairman in a recent TV talk show admitted that some of its officials have indulged in irregularities. That means Sharser Modhey Bhut [the enemy within]. So, it would be good if the ACC is abolished immediately. People will get relief from harassment,” Ahsan Ullah said.
Ahsan, a defence lawyer for two accused, former BNP lawmaker Kazi Salimul Haque and Sharfuddin Ahmed, said this while placing closing arguments before the Special Judge Court-5 of Dhaka.
However, Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman several times yesterday warned the lawyer of not “wasting time” by placing “irrelevant” submissions.
On July 3, 2008, the anti-graft body filed the case against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, her eldest son Tarique Rahman, Salimul, Sharfuddin and two others for their alleged involvement in misappropriating over Tk 2.1 crore that came as grants for orphans from abroad.
Meanwhile, the court rejected a petition of Khaleda, seeking deferment of today's proceedings in the case to any day next week.
It, however, exempted her from personal appearance before the court for today and extended her bail until the next date set by the court after today's proceedings.
But Khaleda's lawyer Zainul Abedin told reporters that Khaleda would appear before the court today as the court did not defer today's proceedings.
Sanaullah Mia, another lawyer for the BNP chief, who was present at the court yesterday, prayed for the deferment as today is the death anniversary of Khaleda's mother.
Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajal of the case did not oppose the petition, and the court exempted Khaleda from personal appearance.
It adjourned the proceedings until today and asked other defence lawyers to place their arguments.
On Tuesday, defence lawyers of Khaleda completed their arguments and sought her acquittal.
“INVESTIGATION AS PER THE DESIRE OF BOSS”
Ahsan Ullah started his yesterday's arguments, pointing to “discrepancy” in the testimonies of Harun-or-Rashid, the complainant and investigation officer (IO) of the case.
Harun testified twice -- once as the complainant and again as the IO.
Ahsan said the IO had no knowledge how to investigate, but he carried out the probe as per the directives of his boss.
All the activities under then ACC chairman Lt General (retd) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury were “illegal”, he claimed.
Police have been investigating all kinds of cases for last 300 years, so why they would not be assigned to investigate ACC case, said Ahsan, adding that the ACC lacks skilled manpower to carry out its probe.
The lawyer said although the IO said he had knowledge on the Trust Act, but he failed to answer whether there was any provision of impunity in the act.
Some parts of his testimonies are “contradictory” while other parts “contradict” the testimonies of other witnesses, the defence lawyer said.
Ahsan said, "He [IO] may be honest, but was not competent [to carry out the investigation]. It's like discharging duties as per the desire of the boss. It seems that he was forced to investigate the case.
“Actually, it was not an investigation at all. The case was buried there."
A man, who was assigned to investigate a case involving several bank transactions, had no knowledge about bank transactions, he claimed.
The lawyer said, “The ACC actually turned into an ornamental organisation. More skilled manpower should be appointed there. Why not former bankers be assigned to probe bank-related cases?
The account of Zia Orphanage Trust has not been frozen yet, and the money is yet to be confiscated, said Ahsan, adding that Tk 2 crore of the trust has now become Tk 6 crore.
“Actually, no money was misappropriated ... the case was filed upon assumptions …. ,” he said.
He said if anyone established a trust in the name of Ziaur Rahman or Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, people would donate thousands of crores of taka there.
“Then why will they [accused] misappropriate only Tk 2 crore?" he added.
IRRELEVANT SUBMISSION IRKS COURT
At one stage of arguments, the judge said, “I am confused whom are you representing for? The part you are reading now is not related to your clients.”
“If you asked me, I would not read this,” Ahsan replied.
"Do you know that you have adduced defence witness[es]?” You should focus on what the defence witness[es] have said. But you are not doing so,” the judge said.
When the lawyer asked whether he would concentrate on the defence witnesses' testimonies, the judge said, “You are reading from the cross-examinations related to other accused.”
"You got involved in the case later. If you were present during recording of testimonies and cross-examinations, things may not happen like this,” the judge said.
“I will complete my submission after only reading the testimonies,” said Ahsan.
"But I will not allow you to read testimonies of all 32 prosecution witnesses. I will stop if you place irrelevant submission,” the judge said.
“If I read out here, you will not need to read it at home. I am a sincere officer of the court,” said Ahsan. The court permitted him to read.
When the court proceedings resumed after a break, it again asked him to place his arguments which are relevant to his clients.