Canadian lawyer smells political motive | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 30, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 30, 2008

Canadian lawyer smells political motive

IG prisons rules out his meeting with Hasina

Detained Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina's Canadian counsel Prof Payam Akhavan yesterday said the charges brought against her are 'politically motivated' and intended to throw her out of politics and the next parliamentary election.
"I want to say after observing everything that there is political motive behind bringing charges against Sheikh Hasina," the counsel told a crowded press conference at Sonargaon Hotel.
Payam arrived in Dhaka on Sunday to meet Hasina.
When contacted, Inspector General of Prisons Brig Gen Zakir Hassan however said they could not allow the foreign lawyer to meet Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim in jail since the Jail Code does not allow any foreign national to meet a detainee.
Payam, a professor at McGill University in Montreal in Canada and also a US attorney, said he would lodge a complaint with the UN in this regard.
The counsel also talked on some issues like human rights situation in Bangladesh, role of the army, caretaker government and judicial system.
“It is not for the caretaker government or the international community to decide who will be the leaders of this country. It is the people who will decide their leadership, and it is the democracy," he observed.
There is no alternative to establishing democracy in the country but it (democracy) has now been confined to jail, Payam said.
He noted that 'manipulation of judicial system' in Bangladesh is a great concern. Due process of law has not been followed in trying Hasina and this could hinder establishing democracy, he said.
The charges against Hasina are not only a question of human rights as they could also lead to a grave consequence for Bangladesh and its democracy, the Canadian lawyer added.
He posed a question how a reported event eight years ago could be brought under the Emergency Power Rules instead of filing a regular criminal case. He urged the government to ensure transparent and open trial of Hasina.
Payam said Azam J Chowdhury's case against Hasina is based on a single piece of evidence -- confessional statement by detained Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim-- which is not enough to convict her.
Referring to different international Human Rights organisations reports, he expressed concern over alleged violation of human rights in Bangladesh.
The jurist said he would try to meet the chief adviser (CA), government officials and representatives of different human rights bodies in the country, and draw the CA's attention to rights situation. On his return, he would also try to bring to UN notice the legal and human rights situation here.

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