The Supreme Court yesterday upheld an order that asked a lower court to resume trial of a 24-year-old radar purchase corruption case against Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad and three others.
A three-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha dismissed a petition filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission seeking review of its January 8 order.
ACC lawyer advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star that now the trial court would resume the trial at the current stage and finish the proceedings based on the statements already recorded from the witnesses.
The lower court had earlier recorded statements of 12 witnesses and would now hold arguments on their statements and deliver a verdict in the case following the SC order, he added.
On January 8 this year, the apex court directed the lower court to resume trial of the corruption case and also cancelled the High Court directive that had asked the lower court to finish the trial by March 31.
The SC passed the order after hearing an appeal filed by former air chief Sultan Mahmud, also an accused in the case, challenging the HC order.
The ACC then filed the review petition with the SC seeking its directive on the lower court to record statements of the rest 21 witnesses.
Following an ACC petition, the HC on November 24 last year directed the trial court to finish the trial by March 31. On December 19 last year, Sultan Mahmud filed the appeal with the SC challenging the HC order.
The now-defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption filed the case against former president Ershad and three others in 1992. Ershad in collusion with others allegedly caused a loss of Tk 64.04 crore to the state exchequer by purchasing radars from the USA while he was in power, said the case statement.
On August 12, 1995, the trial court framed charges against Ershad, former air chiefs Sultan Mahmud and Mamtazuddin Ahmed and United Traders Ltd director AKM Musa. Musa has been absconding since then.