MiG-29 trial stayed for 3 months
The High Court (HC) yesterday stayed for three months trial proceedings against Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina in the MiG-29 purchase scam case filed during the BNP-led four-party alliance rule.
The vacation bench of Justice AFM Abdur Rahman and Justice SM Emdadul Hoque also issued a rule on the government, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and trial court to explain within three weeks why framing charges against Hasina in her absence should not be declared illegal.
The HC has already stayed proceedings against the former prime minister in the extortion case filed by businessman Azam J Chowdhury, and Niko and barge-mounted power plant graft cases filed by the ACC.
It has also granted her three months' ad interim bail in the Azam Chowdhury case.
Of the cases against the AL chief, five were filed after the military-backed caretaker government took over on January 11 last year, and 10 during the BNP-Jamaat rule.
Talking to reporters, Hasina's counsel Shafique Ahmed said his client had earlier been granted bail in the fighter purchase case.
For permanent release, all she needs now is bail in the case filed by Noor Ali, he added.
“Next week we'll file petitions on her behalf for bail in the Niko and power plant graft cases, and the extortion case [filed by Noor Ali]," he said.
He observed that bail in the extortion case filed by businessman Tajul Islam Faruq is not that important as the AL chief has not been shown arrested in the case.
During hearing yesterday, Shafique argued that the divisional special judge's court violated the Code of Criminal Procedure by framing charges against Hasina in her absence on August 20 this year.
As per section 242 of the Code, the court must frame charges against defendants in their presence so they can plead guilty or innocent, he continued.
“Hasina had filed an application requesting the court not to indict her in her absence, but to no effect."
The lawyer said the same court had earlier granted her permission to be absent from trial proceedings during her stay abroad for treatment.
Opposing the stay prayer, Additional Attorney General Mansur Habib and ACC lawyer Golam Kibria said the trial court did not violate the law since it framed charges against the defendant in the presence of her counsels.
The now defunct Bureau of Anti-corruption (Bac) had filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station on December 11, 2001.
Seven persons including Hasina were accused of causing a loss of Tk 700 crore to the state exchequer for corruption in the purchase of eight MiG-29 fighter planes.
Hasina was the prime minister when the purchase was made.