Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case: Khaleda seeks stay on 10yr jail
12:00 AM, November 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:02 AM, November 20, 2018

Zia Orphanage Trust: Khaleda files appeal against HC verdict

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday filed a petition with the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court verdict that increased her punishment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case.

In the petition, 73-year-old Khaleda also sought bail and stay on the HC judgment that enhanced her punishment from five years of imprisonment to 10 years in the case.

The apex court is yet to fix any date for hearing the appeal.

Citing the petition, Khaleda's lawyer Kayser Kamal told The Daily Star that the HC verdict was not in accordance with law and therefore, the HC verdict needed to be scrapped.

The lawyer refused to go into detail about the petition. He, however, said they would move the petition before the SC at a proper time. 

Contacted, Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said they would place arguments before the top court, opposing Khaleda's plea during its hearing.

On October 30, the HC enhanced her five-year jail term that was handed down by a lower court in the graft case.

Considering Khaleda's age and social status, the special court on February 8 sentenced her to five years' imprisonment. She landed in old central jail on that day.

The five other accused in the case, including her son Tarique Rahman who is now BNP's acting chairman, were jailed for 10 years for misappropriating over Tk 2.1 crore that had come from a foreign bank in grants for orphans.

Meanwhile, the HC yesterday directed the government to provide proper treatment to Khaleda, if necessary, in line with the recommendations from the medical board formed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). 

The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil passed the order after disposing of a writ petition filed by the BNP chief, challenging the government decision to take her back to jail from the BSMMU.

The BNP chief submitted the petition on November 11, seeking an HC order on the government to send her to a specialised hospital.

Advocate AJ Mohammad Ali appeared for Khaleda, while Additional Attorney General Murad Reza represented the government.

Khaleda was admitted to the BSMMU on October 6 as per an earlier HC order and taken back to prison on November 8. She was produced before the special court in old central jail in the Niko graft case.

She was released from the BSMMU after the medical board formed for her treatment gave her discharge certificate, BSMMU Director Brig Gen Abdullah Al Harun said at that time.

Khaleda was also convicted in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment by the same special court on October 29.

She appealed to the HC on Sunday, challenging the lower court verdict.

'KHALEDA CAN CONTEST POLLS'

In another development, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday claimed Khaleda could contest the upcoming 11th parliamentary election.

There is no scope for any confusion about her participation in the polls, he said while briefing reporters at the BNP chief's Gulshan office.

“What Awami League leaders are saying does not make any sense. She [Khaleda] is still eligible for participating in the election. We believe that she can take part in the election,” he told journalists in reply to a query.

The BNP leader alleged that the Election Commission was yet to create a level-playing field for all the political parties ahead of the polls scheduled to be held on December 30.

The government is creating a "negative situation” instead of a level-playing field, he added.

Creating a level-playing field, releasing of the party's chief and stopping of arbitrary arrests and filing of cases against their leaders and activists are among their most important demands, Fakhrul said.

Earlier in the day, Fakhrul in a statement alleged that police were arresting the party's leaders who are highly likely to win the general election.

“After declaration of the polls schedule, arbitrary arrests and filing of cases against unknown people have increased,” he said.

“… Our popular leaders, who have high chances of winning the polls, are being arrested and kept behind bars,” Fakhrul claimed.

He alleged that it was all part of the government's technique for gaining political advantage ahead of the election.

“Police are threatening our leaders over the phone and seeking money from them. This is ruining the election atmosphere,” Fakhrul said.

It is the duty of the EC to create a level-playing field and a congenial atmosphere for polls, he added.

3G, 4G SERVICES BLOCKED 

A high official of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission told The Daily Star that all the mobile phone operators were instructed to block 3G and 4G services on mobile phones in and around Khaleda's Gulshan office.

However, 2G service will be active in the area, meaning that mobile phones there will receive internet signal, but the internet speed will be slow.

BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said they faced difficulties in talking to Tarique since afternoon.

“Amid network problem, we completed the interview process for today [yesterday],” he said.

The interview of party's nomination seekers in the upcoming general election ended around 10:00pm.

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