Lawyers of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday argued in court that no money was embezzled from Zia Orphanage Trust, rather the amount in the fund has increased to Tk 6 crore from Tk 2.33 crore.
They also told the court if there were indeed any irregularities in the formation of the trust fund, the matter could be settled under the trust act.
They were placing defence arguments before Dhaka Special Court-5 in Bakshibazar in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Talking to reporters after the hearing, Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, a senior counsel for Khaleda, said, “BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will be acquitted in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case if there is no order from the top authority [of the government]."
Earlier, Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman adjourned the argument hearing for the fifth consecutive day and ordered the defence lawyers to place the rest of their arguments on January 3 and January 4.
Khaleda was present in court yesterday.
She had also appeared before the court on December 19, the day when the prosecution sought life imprisonment -- the highest punishment for such offence -- for her and five other accused in the case.
This was for the first time that Khaleda appeared before the court for six consecutive days.
On December 19, Chief Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol of the Anti-Corruption Commission made appeal for life imprisonment after placing his closing argument in the case.
In July 2008, the ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case with Ramna Police Station accusing Khaleda, her son Tarique Rahman and four others of misappropriating over Tk 2.10 crore that had come as grants for orphans from a foreign bank.
Three years later, the anti-graft body lodged Zia Charitable Trust graft case with Tejgaon Police Station, accusing four people, including Khaleda, of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.
According to the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, the then prime minister Khaleda and the other accused through unlawful practices embezzled over Tk 2.10 crore by establishing the trust that exists only on paper.
The complainant alleged that on June 9 in 1991, a grant of $1,255,000, equivalent to about Tk 4.45 crore at the time, was transferred from United Saudi Commercial Bank to Prime Minister's Orphanage Fund -- a fund that was created by the then premier Khaleda shortly before the transfer of the grant as part of the embezzlement scheme. Only Khaleda administered the fund.
Apart from Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, another senior counsel for Khaleda AJ Mohammad Ali, also a former attorney general, placed arguments before the court yesterday.
He alleged that the case against the BNP chief was "politically motivated" and based on "fake and fabricated documents".
In his argument, Ali also said any question of misappropriation of money from the trust fund cannot be raised as it was a private fund, not a public one.
“The case is out and out a false and motivated one which was designed to malign the image of Khaleda Zia,” he said.