A Dhaka court has exempted BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from personal appearance in the Niko graft case.
Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of the Special Judge's Court-9 of Dhaka passed the order on February 16, following a petition submitted by Khaleda's lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder.
The court yesterday began the hearing on charge-framing in the case filed against Khaleda and eight others, defence lawyer Zia Uddin told The Daily Star.
Defence lawyer Zaynal Abedin Meshbah represented Khaleda in the court in her absence.
During yesterday's hearing, Advocate Masud Ahmed Talukder cited different "flawed points" brought against Khaleda in the first information report of the case.
As the hearing could not be completed, the judge set March 18 for the next hearing.
Khaleda Zia, who is now out of jail following an executive order from the government, is unwell and cannot leave home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the defence.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case in December 2007, accusing her and several others, of abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko when she was the prime minister between 2001 and 2006.
The anti-graft body pressed charges against Khaleda and 10 others in May 2008. Two months later the High Court stayed the proceedings of the case.
On June 18, 2015, the HC cleared the way for the trial proceedings to resume and ordered the BNP chief to surrender before the trial court within two months after a copy of the HC verdict reached it.