Graft: Verdict on Khaleda’s appeal tomorrow
The High Court will deliver its verdict on appeal of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in connection with Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case tomorrow.
The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman fixed the date after concluding hearing arguments on the appeals for 32 days.
The appeal of Khaleda seeks acquittal from the charges. Two others were filed by convicts Qazi Saleemul Huq and Sharfuddin Ahmed seeking the same.
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has a revision petition seeking increasing the jail sentence of Khaleda, who is now behind bars after conviction in this case.
Meanwhile, today, the court also delivered a seven-year jail term to Khaleda after conviction in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
WHAT WAS THE VERDICT?
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, an ex-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.
WHAT WAS KHALEDA’S APPEAL?
Khaleda Zia on February 20 filed an appeal with the HC challenging the trial court verdict on her.
In the appeal, Khaleda prayed to the HC to acquit her of the corruption charge and to scrap the lower court verdict, stay her conviction and suspend the five-year prison sentence.
Claiming herself innocent, Khaleda mentioned 44 grounds in the 1222-page appeal on which the HC may consider her prayers.
In its verdict, the trial court said Khaleda in her defence statement confessed that she had abused her power. “So, there is no bar to punishing her under section 409 of Penal Code and 5(2) of Corruption Prevention Act-1947.”
Referring to the matter, the BNP chief in the appeal said, “The conviction and sentencing of the appellant [Khaleda] based on grotesque distortion of her statement and such the same is liable to be set aside.”
“… protesters are being killed by mindless shooting if they protest the unjust. Students and teachers are being killed. Are not these abuse of powers? Did I abuse powers?”
She said “under the facts and circumstances of the case the impugned judgement and order of conviction and sentence against her being untenable and unsustainable in law is required to be set aside”.