A Dhaka Court yesterday sentenced Mahmudur Rahman, former energy advisor to ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia, to three years in prison for not submitting his wealth statement to the Anti-Corruption Commission “deliberately”.
The Special Judge's Court-3 also fined Mahmudur, acting editor of Bangla daily Amar Desh that was shutdown in 2013, Tk 1 lakh. He would have to serve one more month in prison if he fails to pay the fine.
The amount of time Mahmudur had already spent in jail in connection with the case would be deducted from the three-year jail term, Abu Ahmed Jamadar, judge of the court, said.
Mahmudur's lawyer Tajul Islam said the “verdict was full of errors” and it was a “perverse verdict”, a claim that was refuted by an Anti-Corruption Commission Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajal.
Mahmudur is now facing a total of 69 cases. But this is the first case in which he was convicted, Tajul told The Daily Star. They would challenge the verdict with the High Court, he added.
Tajul said Mahmudur had already spent more than three years in jail in connection with the case. So he does not need to serve jail anymore in the case.
Court sources, however, said Mahmudur was shown arrested in the case on July 13, 2010, and he was released on bail on November 15 the same year. Later, he was shown arrested in the case again on September 25, 2013.
Mahmudur is now in jail in connection with seven other pending cases for which he did not seek bail. In other 61 cases, Mahmudur obtained bail or the cases were stayed by the High Court, Tajul said.
The ACC filed the case against Mahmudur, also former chairman of Board of Investment, on June 13, 2010, as he did not submit his wealth statement after receiving an ACC notice to this end.
On July 15, 2010, ACC Deputy Director Nur Ahmad, also investigation officer of the case, submitted charge sheet against Mahmudur and the Special Judge's Court-3 framed charges against him on April 28, 2014.
Yesterday, Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar said he had gone through the testimonies of nine prosecution witnesses and the HC orders, which were related to the cases.
The prosecution, by submitting testimonies and documentary evidence, had been able to prove that Mahmudur Rahman had received the ACC notice that asked him to submit his wealth statement in seven working days but he “deliberately” did not submit it.
Thus, he committed crimes under section 26 (2)(a) of the ACC Act-2004, said the judge while reading out the summery of the 35-page judgment.
The judge said Mahmudur Rahman had submitted a written statement where he made some “unexpected comments” about the incumbent government and its chief, which the accused should not have done.
From his speech and statement, it was revealed that Mahmudur Rahman did not repent his offence, said the judge at the makeshift courtroom set up on Alia Madrasa ground at the capital's Bakshibazar.
Earlier in the day, police produced Mahmudur before the court around 10:10am. Wearing a blue and white chequered panjabi and a pair of white pyjamas, Mahmudur sat on a chair outside the dock, and was seen hearing the judgment carefully.
When, Mahmudur was taken to a prison van, he chanted: “Fight against curbing of freedom of speech will continue ... Fight against the Sheikh Hasina government will continue.”
After the verdict, Tajul Islam said the court had made “errors of law, facts, in framing the issue and giving findings” in the verdict.
He said it was true that his client had received the ACC notice that asked him to submit wealth statement, but his client was not bound to obey the “illegal order” of the ACC. The ACC could issue such a notice only after being satisfied that a person had committed corruption, he added.
But, the ACC admitted before the court that it did not find any evidence of corruption against his client, Tajul added.
On behalf of Amar Desh, its executive editor Syed Abdal Ahmed said they did not get justice.
However, Mosharraf Hossain Kajal said Mahmudur had challenged the issuance of the ACC notice and also the case in different courts, including the High Court, but lost every time.
After a long legal battle, the court gave the verdict being satisfied with evidence they [the prosecution] submitted before the court, Kajal said. He termed defence allegations “unfortunate”.
Mahmudur was first arrested on June 2, 2010, in a case filed on charge of preventing police from discharging their duties. Later, he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for a contempt of court proceeding. He was arrested for the second time on April 11, 2013, in a sedition case.