Nothing new in it | The Daily Star
02:29 AM, September 07, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:31 AM, September 07, 2018

Nothing new in it

Prime minister defends setting up court in jail for Khaleda Zia's trial

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the makeshift court had been set up in old Dhaka central jail to try BNP chief Khaleda Zia in a graft case as BNP leaders were talking about her security.

“There's nothing new in it,” she said.

Mentioning that such a court could be set up with a gazette notification, she said the trial of Colonel Taher was held in a court in jail during the Ziaur Rahman's regime. The trial of BDR mutiny cases were also held on the ground of jail.

Pointing at Khaleda, Hasina questioned how a citizen of the country could make an audacious remark that he or she would not appear before the court anymore.

“Standing before the court, Khaleda Zia said she won't appear before the court anymore. What type of remark is it? Can any citizen who abides by the constitution and law of the land make such an audacious remark?” she said.

Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, said this while presiding over a meeting of the AL Central Working Committee at the Gono Bhaban.

She said if Khaleda felt she was innocent she must appear before the court.

Mentioning that Khaleda did not appear before the court even for a single time in the last six months in connection with the Zia Charitable Trust case, Hasina said she did not do so because she has a “guilty mind”.

“She wants to avoid the trial and bypass it as she has a guilty mind ... she has an escapist mindset as she's guilty ... this is the reality," said the PM.

Hasina said when the caretaker government filed cases, even of murder, against her and issued an arrest warrant, she cut her stay in the USA short and returned home taking the challenge to face the case as she knew that she was innocent.

Refuting BNP leaders' allegation of holding a camera trial in the makeshift court, the PM said the trial was being held in an open court where people have free access.

“How could it be a camera trial when the door of the court remains open? They [BNP leaders] are bringing such an allegation only to confuse people,” she said, adding, “I would like to clearly tell the nation that it's not a camera trial.”

Mentioning that the BNP chief was allowed to keep her maidservant Fatema inside the jail with her, Hasina questioned whether the constitution or the law permitted a convicted person to take her domestic help with her in the jail. “Is there any such example anywhere in the world? I would like to have an answer from BNP leaders to this question.”

She also warned that the government would withdraw the maidservant if the BNP leaders failed to come up with a reasonable answer justifying Fatema's stay in jail with Khaleda. “Because, no one has the right to make an innocent person languish in jail. This is also a crime."

She said BNP leaders and lawyers were making spurious and baseless allegations of holding camera trial as they do not have enough evidence to defend Khaleda.

The PM criticised the media for giving good treatment to Khaleda's remark that she would not appear before the court though the remark was in violation of the law as she was a convicted person.

Referring to possible formation of a new political alliance by Dr Kamal Hossain, president of Gonoforum, and Prof AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, president of Bikolpodhara Bangladesh, she welcomed the move.

"An alliance is in the offing with our so-called big shots. This is very good. It should be formed. There should be an alternative to the Awami League," she said.

Hasina hoped that they would not make Jamaat-Shibir and anti-liberation forces their alliance partners.

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