Gatco graft case: Charge framing hearing starts

Khaleda Zia's Barapukuria Coal Mine Corruption Case
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia. Star file photo

A Dhaka court today began hearing on charge framing against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and 16 others in connection with Gatco corruption case.

Before beginning of the hearing, Khaleda was taken to the Special Judge Court-3 of Judge Abu Syed Diljar Hossain of Dhaka in a wheelchair around 12:45pm.

Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol, during the hearing, told the court the then prime minister Khaleda Zia and other accused in the case embezzled money for providing the work to the Gatco illegally for which the government experienced a loss of around Tk 1,000 crore.

The prosecution prayed to the court to frame the charges against the accused in the case as they had enough documents and witnesses, he said.

Khaleda's lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder told the court that the defence need seized documents of the case for participating in the hearing on charge framing.

The Judge, in reply, said that these documents were not available in the court and the defence would get the documents while those would be available in the court.

Rejecting a time petition by the lawyer of another accused Gatco director Shahjahan M Hasib, the court issued an arrest warrant for Hasib.

The judge fixed February 27 for next hearing on the charge framing in the case.

Sixteen out of 17 accused in the case were present in the court.

On September 2, 2007, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station against Khaleda and several others on charges of misappropriating around Tk 1,000 crore while dealing with Global Agro Trade (Pvt) Company Ltd (Gatco).

On May 13, 2008, the anti-graft body pressed charges against the former premier and 23 others.

Meanwhile, the names of seven other accused, including Khaleda's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko, were dropped from the charge sheet following their deaths on different dates.