Illegal Wealth, Concealing Info: Tarique gets 9yrs, Zubaida 3yrs
A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman to nine years and his wife Zubaida Rahman to three years in prison in a graft case filed in 2007.
The court found Tarique guilty of illegally earning over Tk 4.82 crore and not mentioning in his wealth statement that he owned assets worth over Tk 4.23 crore. Zubaida was convicted of aiding and abetting Tarique.
Judge Md Asaduzzaman of Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge's Court delivered the verdict in a packed courtroom.
Tarique and Zubaida who have been living in London since 2008 were declared fugitives by the High Court on June 26 last year.
The court also fined the eldest son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia Tk 3 crore and Zubaida Tk 35 lakh. Failure to pay the sums will cost Tarique an additional three months in prison and Zubaida one month.
The judge directed the authorities concerned to confiscate their illegal wealth worth over Tk 2.74 crore.
The prison sentence will be effective the day of their surrender or arrest, said the judge in the verdict delivered around 4:00pm.
Pro-BNP lawyers demonstrated on the court premises for almost six hours, during which pro-Awami League lawyers engaged in scuffles with them several times.
A large number of law enforcers were deployed inside and outside the court.
Soon after the verdict was announced, Law Minister Anisul Huq told reporters at his office that the sentence was a reflection of the rule of law while the BNP supporters demonstrated condemning the verdict in different places across the country.
The BNP will hold rallies in the cities and towns tomorrow and another rally in Nayapaltan on Friday in protest of the verdict.
The court framed charges against the couple on April 13.
Anti-Corruption Commission Deputy Director Muhammad Jahirul Huda filed the case with Kafrul Police Station against them and Zubaida's mother Syeda Iqbalmand Banu on September 26, 2007. Syeda was accused of abetting Tarique.
Charges were pressed against the three on March 31, 2009.
At one point, the HC stayed the trial proceedings for around 15 years.
On June 26 last year, the HC withdrew the stay order and rejected Tarique and Zubaida's petitions challenging the filing of the case. It cancelled trial proceedings against Zubaida's mother.
On November 1 last year, the court issued arrest warrants for Tarique and Zubaida.
The complaint said Tarique submitted his wealth statement to the ACC on June 10, 2007 through the jail authorities. The statement said he, his wife, and daughter had wealth worth Tk 1.37 crore.
In a report submitted to the ACC on July 25, 2007, an investigator said Tarique became the publisher and printer of Dainik Dinkal on August 12, 1998.
The financial documents show that by becoming the daily's owner, Tarique gained over Tk 4.15 crore against an investment of over Tk 1.74 crore, said the report.
Tarique also concealed the fact that he owned about 250 shares, worth Tk 2.5 lakh, of Rahman Group.
The complaint said Tarique, his wife, and daughter had properties and three Fixed Deposit Receipts (FDR) worth Tk 58.45 lakh.
Tarique had 2.01 acres of land in Gabtoli of Bogura. In his wealth statement, he mentioned that he bought the land in May 2003 for Tk 3.45 lakh he earned from his business.
However, his total expenditure during 2001-2006 was more than his income, which meant he bought the property with money from unknown sources.
The case statement said Zubaida claimed that her mother Syeda gave her the money for the two FDRs. Her mother claimed that she got the money by renting out her properties at the capital's Mohakhali and Motijheel.
However, their claims proved to be false as the investigation found that a man named Enayetul Bari Jewel, who has no relation to Zubaida, deposited the money for the FDRs.
Actually, Tarique provided the money from his undeclared income, the complaint said.
Besides, Tarique claimed that he provided Tk 20 lakh for opening the FDR for his daughter taking loan from Rahman Group, but there was no evidence to substantiate the claim.
Tarique was accused in 15 other cases, most of which were filed in 2007 and 2008 when a caretaker government was in power.
He was sentenced to life in prison in the August 21 grenade attack cases. He was also sentenced in three other cases.