BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia expressed strong dissatisfaction with her seating arrangement at the court during the hearing in the Gatco graft case yesterday.
At the Special Judge Court-3 of Dhaka, Khaleda told that she could not see the honourable judge from her seat.
Judge Abu Syed Diljar Hossain also issued arrest warrants for two other accused in the case -- BNP leader AKM Mosharraf Hossain and Ismail Hossain Simon, son of late shipping minister Col (retd) Akbar Hossain.
The two, who are on bail, did not appear before the court yesterday. Their lawyers filed two time petitions with the court, but those were rejected.
Khaleda was taken to the court in a wheelchair around 12:40pm. She was separated from the other accused present in the court by a waist-high wall.
The BNP chief said, “I cannot see you [judge]. Seat me in the dock if necessary, but not here.
“There was no such wall inside the court before. Where did it come from? I won't stay here. I'll leave.”
Khaleda's lawyers AZ Mohammad Ali and Masud Ahmed Talukder asked, “Why has Khaleda Zia been kept separated in the court? Please issue an order to bring her before [judge]. There is no scope for keeping Khaleda Zia isolated in the court.”
Other defence lawyers echoed them.
At that time, Public Prosecutor of Anti-Corruption Commission Mosharraf Hossain Kajol said the court was set up like this and Khaleda was separated for security reasons.
At one stage, the judge told the defence lawyers that he would consider the matter in the next hearing.
Later, the defence lawyers said there was no scope for starting the hearing on charge framing as they were yet to get the case documents.
However, Kajol claimed the documents had been handed over to the defence lawyers.
Fifteen out of 17 accused in the case were present in the court.
The judge set February 7 for the next hearing in the corruption case.
On January 16, Khaleda did not appear before the court as she developed a boil on her leg.
On September 2, 2007, the 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 watchdog pressed charges against Khaleda 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.