Charitable Trust Graft
Order on case proceedings in Khaleda’s absence today
A special court in Dhaka will decide today (Thursday) whether the Zia Charitable Trust graft case against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia should continue or not in her absence. Judge Md Akhteruzzaman of the Special Judge Court-5 on Wednesday passed the order as the prosecution told the court that the accused, Khaleda Zia, is reluctant to appear before the court set up at the old Dhaka Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road. The court also will hold a hearing on Thursday whether the proceedings in the case will go ahead in absence of her or not, said ACC Chief Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol to the Daily Observer.
Khaleda Zia, three times prime minister, now serving a five-year jail term in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, was approached by the jail authority on Wednesday for production before the court, which is adjacent to her jail room. But the jail officials waited for a long time in front of her room for her to come out, but as she did not, the jail authority appraised the matter to the court. Earlier, the proceedings of Zia Charitable Trust graft case used to run at a makeshift court in Bakshibazar but on September 4, the Law Ministry issued a gazette notification, saying the proceedings in the case would be held at the old central jail on Nazimuddin Road.
The Ministry took the decision taking Khaleda's security into consideration. No senior defence lawyer was present in the court room on the previous day. During the first hearing at the old central jail on September 6, Khaleda was produced before the court where she expressed her lack of confidence in the special court trying the graft case. The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Zia Charitable corruption case with Tejgaon Police Station in August 2011, accusing Khaleda and three others of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources. The three other accused are Harris Chowdhury, political secretary of the then PM Khaleda between 2001 and 2006, Ziaul Islam Munna, assistant private secretary (APS) to Harris and Monirul Islam Khan, APS of former Dhaka city mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
On February 8, the same special court awarded Khaleda five years' rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and sentenced her elder son Tarique Rahman, now acting BNP chairman, and four others to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment each.