POST TIME: 9 November, 2018 12:58:41 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 9 November, 2018 01:05:52 PM
‘Ailing’ Khaleda sent back to jail in Niko graft case
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

‘Ailing’ Khaleda sent back to jail in Niko graft case

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia being taken to old Dhaka Central Jail from BSMMU yesterday. Independent Photo

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was taken back to the old Dhaka Central Jail from hospital yesterday and produced before a makeshift court, which has been set-up inside the prison to hold the Niko graft case trial. The police brought the BNP chief to the old central jail on Nazimuddin Road directly from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and produced in the special court at 11.40 am following a gazette notification by the law ministry on Wednesday night, saying that the trial of all the accused in the Niko corruption case would be held at the makeshift court on the jail premises.

After completion of the hearing, the court ordered the authorities to send the BNP chief back to jail. On her way to the prison, Khaleda had a brief conversation with BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. The court will frame charges against BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and some other accused in the Niko graft case on November 14. Judge Mahmudul Kabir fixed the date after the hearing yesterday. During the hearing at the makeshift court on the old Dhaka Central Jail premises, Khaleda told the judge that she was produced in court in spite of her illness.

The former prime minister claimed that the earlier Awami League (AL) government had struck the Niko deal and her government just continued with it.

The BNP chief said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina should also be produced in court because she also faced a similar charge regarding the Niko deal. “Sheikh Hasina was an accused in the same case; she got acquittal, but not me. If I’m produced in court, then the PM should also be produced in court in the graft case,” defence counsel Sanaullah Miah quoted her as saying.

In response, the judge said that Hasina was already acquitted by the HC. He further said that Hasina was not an accused in the case. “So, the question of producing the prime minister in court is absurd,” he added.

Following this, barrister Moudud Ahmed, who is another accused in the case, submitted a petition to the court for adjournment of hearing. But the court rejected the plea and told him to take part in the hearing. After a brief hearing, the court fixed November 14 for framing charges against the accused.

Following a brief conversation with Khaleda, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that the government has forcibly sent the BNP chairperson to jail from BSMMU ‘with an ill motive to fulfil its political desire’. The BNP leader also alleged that the government has taken back their party chief to jail without a ‘discharge certificate’ from the medical board treating her.

“As per the information we’ve received, the medical board didn’t give her any discharge certificate. The board said she’s very sick and shouldn’t be taken to jail in any way given her current condition,” he said, adding that it was ‘political vengeance’ by the government.

However, the BSMMU authorities told reporters that the medical board had allowed Khaleda to leave. Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah-Al-Harun said Khaleda was discharged upon approval from the medical board formed for her treatment.

On December 9, 2007, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Niko graft case with Tejgaon Police Station accusing Khaleda and 10 others of abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko during her tenure as the prime minister.

Khaleda was lodged in the old central jail on Nazimuddin Road after she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8.

On October 4, the HC directed the government to immediately admit Khaleda to BSMMU and form a new five-member medical board for her treatment.

On October 6, the prison authorities shifted her to BSMMU in accordance with the HC order. Later, a medical board headed by Prof Abdul Jalil Chowdhury was formed to suggest her line of treatment.