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Friday, February 27, 2015, Falgun 15, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 7, 1436 Hijr

Khaleda to surrender or face arrest?
Nazmus Sakib
Published : Friday, 27 February, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 24
Yet it is not clear whether Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia will surrender before the Dhaka Court that issued the arrest warrant against her if she wants to evade arrest by the law enforcing agencies.  
The Court on Wednesday cancelled the bail and issued arrest warrant when the BNP Chairperson did not appear before the court on the day. She did not appear before the trial court on most of the days despite her lawyers had taken time from the court. Out of 63 dates for appearance she showed up before the trial court for only seven times. After appearing before the court on December 24 last year, the BNP chairperson skipped hearings on four consecutive dates -- January 7, 15, and 29, and February 25.    
She is now a "fugitive in the eye of law", said her lawyer and adviser Khandker Mahbub Hossain, adding that they now wait for execution of the arrest warrant.
When asked what will be the next legal step of Khaleda, the Supreme Court Bar Association President told The Daily Observer, "Now it is the turn of the government to execute the arrest warrant. We will not take any step before the execution of the warrant."
Another counsel of Khaleda Barrister Ehsanur Rahman told this correspondent that it is the general course of law that Khaleda has no other option but to surrender before the Dhaka's Third Metropolitan Special Judges Court  and seek bail in the two graft cases-Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust cases, if she wants to evade arrest.  
The graft accusations against the former prime minister are non-bailable, so it is the discretion of the judge to allow the BNP Chairperson bail or not, Ehsanur said.
He said that the maximum punishment for the alleged offence committed by Khaleda is life imprisonment.   
Though the court issued warrant of arrest against Khaleda on Wednesday, the police station concerned is yet to get the copy of the warrant, said Joint Commissioner (DB) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Monirul Islam on Thursday.
"We've heard from the media that the copy of the arrest warrant has been sent to the police station concerned but the police station did not confirm this," he told a press briefing at the DMP media centre. "We'll take the next step when the court order reaches the police station," the DMP spokesperson added.
On Surrender, Khandker Mahbub said, "How can she surrender before the Dhaka's Third Metropolitan Special Judges Court? Who will give her security? She came under attack when she appeared before the court on December 24 last year. The BNP men were accused for the attack carried out by the ruling party men. What will we do when even we, the lawyers, cannot meet her."
He alleged that law enforcement agencies cordoned off the residence of senior lawyer TH Khan when the BNP Chairperson's lawyers sat for a meeting to decide on taking next legal step.
When asked whether Khaleda can move the High Court or not, Khandker Mahbub said after the arrest warrant the former prime minister is a fugitive now. So, for the time being there is no scope to move the High Court directly as there is some procedure, he said.   
SM Rezaul Karim, former Secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association, told this correspondent that according to many judgments of the Supreme Court  the BNP Chairperson loses  the right to move the High Court as she is a fugitive now in the eye of law.
Earlier, expelled Awami League leader and Minister Latif Siddique surrendered before the lower court after an arrest warrant was issued against him though he could not obtain bail in the case lodged against him for hurting religious sentiment of the Muslims.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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