ZIA TRUST FUND CASE AGAINST KHALEDA
Court takes cognisance of chargesRobiul Islam
A Dhaka court on Tuesday took cognisance of corruption charges brought against the Bangladesh Nationalist Party chair, Khaleda Zia, for spending undisclosed money on buying land for a charity named after former president the late Ziaur Rahman, also her husband.
Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge Md Zahirul Haque passed the order after hearing the admissibility of the charge sheet in the case in which three others are also accused.
Khaleda, also a former prime minister, was present in court during the hearing.
The three accused are Khaleda’s political secretary Haris Chowdhury, Md Ziaul Islam, who was assistant private secretary to Haris, and Manirul Islam Khan, who was assistant private secretary to former mayor of Dhaka Sadeque Hossain.
The court on Tuesday issued a warrant for arrest of Haris Chowdhury, now in hiding, and posted for January 31 the submission of police report on the warrant.
The Anti-Corruption Commission’s assistant director, Harunur Rashid, on August 7, 2011 filed the case with the Tajgaon poliuce, accusing Khaleda of criminal misconduct and of abusing her power as the then prime minister in setting up the Shahid Ziaur Rahman Charitable Trust by accumulating money from undisclosed sources and buying 42 kathas of land at Kakrail for the trust.
The Zia Charitable Trust case was the first case filed so far against Khaleda after the assumption of office by the ruling Awami League-led alliance on January 6, 2009.
The commission filed the charge sheet in the case with court on January 16, 2012.
Khaleda Zia was granted anticipatory ad interim bail in the case after she had surrendered in the High Court on February 2, 2012.
Ziaul Islam and Monirul Islam, who obtained bail from the trial court, also appeared on Tuesday.
Khaleda, flanked by lawyers leaning towards the BNP and senior leaders, appeared in the courtroom about 2:15pm. She was allowed to sit on a chair near the bench of the judge.
Supreme Court lawyers Aminul Haque, Mahbub Uddin Khokon and Sanaullah Mia, who acted for Khaleda Zia, argued that Zia Charitable Trust members had collected the money from leaders and supporters of the party.
‘It does not mean corruption,’ Mahbub Uddin said.
The defence counsel also pleaded for adjournment of the hearing on the admissibility of the charge sheet until the disposal of a rule the High Court had issued on the commission asking it to explain the legality of its notification seeking Khaleda’s statement in a similar case.
The counsel argued that the case had been filed against Khaleda to harass her politically.
‘This is the trust’s property and she did not take any government property or money,’ Sanaullah said.
The commission’s counsel Mosharraf Hossain Kajal said that the former prime minister had misappropriated the trust fund by misusing her power while she was in office.
As the commission submitted the charge sheet against the accused after investigation, the court is bound to accept the charge sheet and take cognisance of it in keeping with the law.
She left the court premises about 3:30pm.
As Khaleda left the court, thousand of lawyers, leaders and supporters of the BNP shouted slogans demanding withdrawal of ‘false case’ against their leader.
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