The case was filed against him in 1994, alleging him of embezzling money and causing loss to the state exchequer.
It went on for 25 years. And finally on Wednesday, HM Ershad was cleared of the charges -- nearly two months after his death. The former military dictator passed away on July 14 at Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka.
On September 4, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) submitted a probe report to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court of Dhaka, dropping the name of the late Jatiya Party chief from the charges.
An official of now defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) filed the case against him with Tejgaon Police Station on August 31, 1994.
The case statement said that on January 11, 1984, the then president directed the authorities concerned to buy 50 percent of bitumen emulsion required for the Roads and Highways Department from M/s Zakir Industries for his own financial benefit.
Following the order, the authorities bought bitumen emulsion worth more than Tk 17 crore for the department.
In the probe report, ACC Assistant Director Syed Ataul Kabir, the case’s investigation officer, said he did not find any documentary evidence against Ershad for causing loss to the state exchequer.
Moreover, since he had passed away, he was relieved from the charges, the IO added. Asked, the IO did not make any comment about the delay in submitting the report.
He said the court on October 9 will decide whether the former military ruler and president will be discharged.
Talking to The Daily Star, Advocate Mohammad Kalimullah Majumder, one of Ershad’s lawyers, said ACC submitted the report, relieving Ershad from the charges after 25 years. “But, he [Ershad] could not see that he was innocent.”
Ershad is also an accused in the Maj Gen Abul Manzur murder case, which is now pending with the First Additional District and Sessions Judge’s Court of Dhaka.
The court on August 26 asked for a report on death of Ershad. After receiving it, the court will decide whether Ershad’s name will be dropped from the case.
Ershad, who was also leader of the opposition in parliament before he died, was acquitted and discharged from 25 other cases, as the prosecution failed to prove the charges against him.
He was convicted in two other cases, including the Janata Tower graft case.