A Dhaka court yesterday issued arrest warrants against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and 27 others in connection with a case filed for an arson attack on a passenger bus in the capital's Jatrabari in January last year.
On February 25 last year, another Dhaka court issued arrest warrants against Khaleda in Zia Orphanage and Zia Charitable Trust graft cases.
Yesterday, Judge Kamrul Hossain Mollah of the Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court passed the order after accepting charges against 38 people, including the 28.
The order came after the investigation officer showed Khaleda and 27 others fugitives and appealed to the court to issue arrest warrants against them.
The court directed the officer-in-charge of Jatrabari Police Station to submit reports by April 27 on execution of arrest warrants.
The judge asked Khaleda's lawyers to show respect to the court after the IO submitted charge sheet and said no such order would have been passed had she along with others appeared before it seeking bail in the case.
Of the accused, six people, including MK Anwar and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, are now on bail, while four low-profile BNP activists are in jail.
Detectives on May 19 last year pressed charges against Khaleda and 37 others, mostly her party men, for allegedly carrying out subversive activities through a petrol bomb attack on the passenger bus on January 23 last year.
One person was killed and 30 others were injured in the attack, one of many bomb attacks that the country had witnessed during the BNP-led 20-party alliance's three months' blockade.
On May 6 last year, detectives submitted two charge sheets -- one for murder and another for bomb blast -- against Khaleda and the other 37 people in another case filed over the same bomb attack.
A day after the January 23 attack, Jatrabari police filed two cases against 68 BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders. The cases were later transferred to the Detective Branch of police.
The other accused facing arrest warrants include BNP leaders Salauddin Ahmed (now in jail in India), Barkatullah Bulu, Habib-un-Nabi Khan Sohel, Mir Sarafat Ali Sapu, Azizul Bari Helal, Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Khaleda's special assistant Shimul Biswas and press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan.
Hours after issuance of the arrest warrant, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed said the arrest warrant had been issued to mentally weaken Khaleda Zia in a false case.
But it would not be possible to make her mentally weak, said the BNP leader.
Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday started hearing on a petition filed by Khaleda Zia seeking cancellation of the trial proceedings in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case against her.
The bench of Justice Md Ruhul Quddus and Justice Mahmudul Haque also fixed today for resuming the hearing.
On March 9, Khaleda submitted the petition with the HC challenging the legality of the appointment of Harunur Rashid as the investigation officer, saying that the Anti-Corruption Commission has not published any gazette notice on his appointment.
Under Section 20(1) of the Anti Corruption Commission Act, 2004, the ACC has to issue a gazette notification on the appointment of an investigation officer (IO) of a graft case, she said in the petition.
AJ Mohammad Ali and Raghib Rauf Chowdhury appeared for Khaleda while Khurshid Alam Khan argued for the ACC.
The ACC on August 8, 2011, filed the graft case with Tejgaon Police Station, accusing Khaleda and three others of abusing power in setting up the charity.
The three other accused are Harris Chowdhury, Khaleda's former political secretary; Ziaul Islam Munna, assistant private secretary (APS) of Harris; and Monirul Islam Khan, APS of former Dhaka City Corporation mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
All but Khaleda have been absconding.
ACC Deputy Director Harunur Rashid, IO of the case, has already given his deposition to the trial court in the case.