Niko graft case: Charges framed against Khaleda
A Dhaka court today framed charges against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and seven others in the Niko graft case.
Khaleda, now on bail, pleaded not guilty through her lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder and demanded justice after Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of the Special Judge's Court-9 of Dhaka read out the charges.
Before that, the judge rejected the petition submitted on Khaleda's behalf. The petition was filed seeking time for hearing on charge framing against her on the next scheduled date.
Four others -- former acting secretary for energy ministry Khondaker Shahidul Islam, its former senior assistant secretary CM Yusuf Hussain, and BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman's close friend Giausuddin Al Mamun -- also pleaded not guilty after the same judge read out the charges.
The judge also dismissed the petition submitted on behalf of former Dhaka Club president Selim Bhuiyan seeking time for his non-appearance, cancelled his bail and issued an arrest warrant against him.
Charges were framed against him in absentia.
The judge set May 23 for starting the trial of the case.
Also, during today's hearing, the judge expressed dissatisfaction over repeated petitions for adjournment.
Three others, including former principal secretary to the former prime minister, Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, have been absconding.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case in December 2007, accusing Khaleda and several others of abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko when she was prime minister between 2001 and 2006.
Three of the accused in the case -- including former state minister for energy and BNP leader AKM Mosharraf Hossain and former law minister Moudud Ahmed-- died earlier. Their names were dropped from the charges of case.
Meantime, Khaleda Zia who stands as accused in 33 other cases, was convicted on different terms of punishment in two other cases, including Zia Charitable Trust Graft case.