Hasina's bail stayed | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 28, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 28, 2007

Hasina's bail stayed

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday stayed the High Court (HC) orders granting Sheikh Hasina bail in two extortion cases until disposal of her writ petitions with the HC.
In response to the government appeals seeking reversal of the HC orders, a full bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice M Ruhul Amin made the ruling that means no immediate prospect for her release from prison.
It also stayed another HC order that imposed a freeze on operation of the Anti-Corruption Commission's (ACC) notice for Awami League (AL) President Hasina to declare her wealth. It asked her to submit in a week a wealth statement to the anti-graft body.
Following yesterday's orders, the trial court can now begin proceedings of the extortion cases under the emergency power rules in which a defendant has no right to bail.
Earlier, the Appellate Division had put off the HC orders till yesterday.
Legal experts said the AL president might have to stay behind bars for an indefinite period as it would take a long time for the entire legal proceedings to be completed. They said an HC division bench would look afresh into the writ petitions filed by Hasina.
Hasina was arrested by the joint forces on July 16, and later that day a magistrate's court sent her to a sub-jail in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban complex.
Since then, she has been continuing legal battles to obtain bail and stop the government's bringing the extortion cases against her under the Emergency Power Rules, 2007.
A bench comprising Justices Shah Abu Nayeem Mominur Rahman and Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury on August 7 granted her bail in the case filed by businessman Noor Ali and asked the government not to have her tried under the emergency rules.
It also asked the military-backed interim administration to reply within four weeks why its approving the case to be under the emergency rules should not be adjudged illegal.
The same day the bench stayed operation of the ACC instructions for Hasina to submit a wealth statement. It ordered the anti-graft body to explain in four weeks why its order shall not be declared illegal.
The ruling did not secure for the detained former prime minister release as the Supreme Court by that time had stayed the previous HC order allowing her bail in the extortion case filed by Azam J Chowdhury with the Gulshan Police Station.
In reaction to yesterday's developments, the counsels for the AL chief said they would continue their efforts to free Hasina. Advocate Mahbubey Alam said they had expected that the Appellate Division would at least uphold the bail orders while the other matters would be left for the HC to settle.
Meanwhile, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's (CMM) Court, Dhaka is scheduled to decide on September 5 whether the charges pressed against Hasina and the co-accused in Azam Chowdhury's case will be accepted or not.
On June 13, Managing Director of East Coast Trading Pvt Limited Azam J Chowdhury charged Hasina and her cousin former health minister Sheikh Selim with extorting Tk 2.99 crore from him. Later police included Sheikh Rehana in the charge sheet.
The same day, Noor Ali, managing director of Unique Group of Company, in his case filed with Tejgaon Police Station accused Hasina and her two relatives--former AL lawmaker Sheikh Helal and his wife Rupa Chowdhury--of receiving Tk 5 crore for helping his firm win a power plant deal in 1997. A probe report on the case is likely to be submitted to the CMM on August 30.
The government placed the two extortion cases under the emergency power rules on July 16, the day Hasina was arrested.
Rafique ul-Huq, Shafique Ahmed, former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, and Fazle Noor Taposh, among others, have been moving for Hasina while Attorney General Fida M Kamal for the government side.
Meanwhile, a division bench of the HC continued hearing Hasina's long-standing plea for quashing the corruption charges against her in the purchase of combat aircraft MiG 29.
The Appellate Division yesterday also stayed the HC orders granting bail to business leader Abdul Awal Mintoo, who was arrested under the emergency power rules.
Earlier in the day, a huge number of AL leaders and workers, and lawyers massed on the court premises to hear the SC decision.
Awami League (AL) acting president Zillur Rahman yesterday termed the Supreme Court orders on Hasina's cases 'better than worse' and vowed to carry on legal battle in their bid to free the AL president from detention.
"We are unhappy with the Supreme Court order but we have no alternative but to accept the verdict as we have respect for the rule of law. But people in general have become frustrated and aggrieved at this order," Zillur Rahman said at a press briefing at his Gulshan residence.
"We thought Sheikh Hasina would get bail but this order has frustrated us and I think justice is not being done to our president," he told reporters.
Supreme Court yesterday further stayed the High Court orders that granted bail to former prime minister Sheikh Hasina in two extortion cases.
"The Supreme Court did not revoke the High Court order granting bail to Sheikh Hasina. So we have still hope to get justice," he said adding that they would start quick legal move for hearing of the writ petitions in Hasina's cases.
The AL acting president requested the party men to face the situation with patience rather than being excited and aggrieved.
Terming the cases filed against Hasina baseless and fabricated, Zillur said their leader must not be punished under these cases. He hoped that the AL chief would get justice and be released soon.
"Falsehood never wins. Truth must win. One day we must get justice," said Zillur.
AL leaders Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Tofail Ahmed, Motia Chowdhury, Maj Gen (retd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan, Dr Dipu Moni and Sahara Khatun were present at the briefing.

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