Zia Orphanage Trust Case

BNP chief's appeal hearing tomorrow

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia seeks HC bail in  Bail in Comilla arson case
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia. Star file photo

The High Court will tomorrow start hearing four appeals in connection with the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case in which BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment.

Of the four pleas, one was filed by Khaleda seeking her acquittal of the charges, a revision petition was filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission seeking an increase in Khaleda's jail term and two other appeals were filed by convicts -- Qazi Saleemul Huq alias Qazi Kamal and Sharfuddin Ahmed -- seeking their acquittal of the charges.

The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman yesterday fixed the date as the appeals were included in yesterday's cause list for order.

The bench said all the appeals of Khaleda, ACC, Saleemul and Sharfudin would be heard at a time.

It had earlier fixed tomorrow for hearing Khaleda's appeal challenging the lower court verdict on her in the case.

Following the ACC's petition, the HC on March 28 issued a rule asking Khaleda and the government to explain why her jail term in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case should not be increased.

On February 8, the Special Judge's Court-5 of Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to five years' rigorous imprisonment after finding her guilty in the graft case.

The court also jailed her elder son Tarique Rahman, now the acting chairman of BNP, and four others for 10 years and fined them Tk 2.1 crore, saying all six convicts would have to pay the fine in equal amounts.

The four other convicts are: Qazi Saleemul Huq, a former BNP MP from Magura; Sharfuddin Ahmed, a businessman; Mominur Rahman, a cousin of Tarique; and Kamal Uddin Siddique, former principal secretary.

Of them, Mominur and Kamal are on the run, while Saleemul and Sharfuddin were sent to jail on February 8. The sentence of the fugitives will be effective from the day of their arrest or surrender.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set today to pass an order on a leave-to-appeal petition filed by the government challenging the HC order that granted bail to Khaleda in a murder case lodged in Comilla.

The case was filed on charge of killing seven people and injuring 25-26 others by torching a bus in Comilla's Chouddagram on February 2, 2016. 

The HC on February 28 granted bail to Khaleda for six months in the case.

On June 24, an Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain fixed today for passing the order on the petition after hearing arguments on it.

In another development, a Dhaka court yesterday adjourned until August 5 the hearing of 11 cases, including a sedition suit, filed against Khaleda.

Judge KM Imrul Kayes of the Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court, set up at Alia Madrasa in Bakhsibazar, passed the order after Khaleda's lawyer Sanaullah Mia submitted 11 separate petitions seeking adjournment of hearing of the cases.

Of the cases, 10 were filed in the first three months of 2015 over arson attacks on vehicles. The other case was lodged with a Dhaka court on charge of making seditious comments about the freedom fighters and the Liberation War martyrs.