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13 March, 2018 12:40:40 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 March, 2018 12:20:27 PM

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HC grants bail to Khaleda

Release uncertain as she is ‘shown arrested’ in Comilla arson case
STAFF REPORTER
HC grants bail to Khaleda

Although the High Court has granted an ad-interim bail to BNP chief Khaleda Zia for four months, she may not be released from jail before securing bail in another case as a Comilla court issued a production warrant (PW) against her in an arson attack case. Contacted, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Independent that Khaleda Zia will now be considered as an arrestee in the arson attack case following the court order.

Police will now show her arrested in the case, he added. “Khaleda Zia will have to get bail in that case too before being released from jail,” the chief counsel of the state explained.

Earlier in the day, police submitted an application before the Comilla court for showing Khaleda arrest in the arson attack case. As per the provision, the court issued a PW and asked the police to produce the BNP chief before it by March 28.

The case was filed against the BNP chairperson over an arson attack on a bus in Chouddagram upazila on February 3 in 2015 during the BNP-led alliance’s nationwide anti-government movement, in which eight people were killed and 20 injured.

A Comilla court, on January 2, issued an arrest warrant against Khaleda in the arson attack case.

Earlier yesterday, the High Court (HC) granted an ad-interim bail for four months to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson, Khaleda Zia, in connection with the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. A lower court had sentenced her to five years' imprisonment.

An HC bench, comprising Justice M Enayetur  Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim, granted bail on consideration of four grounds—quantum of sentencing period, old-age woman, health condition and not misusing bail during her facing trial proceed

ings in the lower court. The HC bench also directed the authorities to prepare the paper book of the case within four months so that it could be heard after mentioning by any party.

There is no legal bar for the BNP chief to be released from jail following the HC order granting her bail, barrister Moudud Ahmed, counsel for Khaleda Zia, told reporters after the HC order.

In response to a query, Moudad Ahmed said the HC would send its bail order to the lower court, which would forward it to the jail authorities. The jail authorities will release her after scrutinising the bail order.

However, attorney general Mahbubey Alam and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told reporters that they would file an appeal before the chamber court for staying the operation of the HC order by today (Tuesday).

During yesterday’s proceedings, advocate Joynul Abedin, one of the counsel for the BNP chief, told the court that the records of the lower court verdict relating to the case has reached the HC. "We have sought bail on grounds of her heath condition and old age," he said.

Opposing her bail petition, Mahbubey Alam told the court that HM Ershad was in jail for more than three years in connection with a graft case. So, Khaleda could not get bail early, he added.

“How old was HM Ershad at that time?” the court asked the AG. AG replied he was 65 years at that time. After being released from jail, Ershad became a father of a son and was in good health at that time, the HC bench said.

“Khaleda is an old woman. She is 73 years old. Her health condition is not good,” the court said, adding: "Bail for four months."

On Sunday, the relevant section of the HC received the records of the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case from Mokarram Hossain, bench assistant of the Special Judge's Court-5 of Dhaka. The records contain 5,373 pages, sources said.

On February 22, the HC bench had asked the special trial court that sentenced the BNP chief to a five-year jail term in the Zia Orphanage Trust case to submit all the case documents related to the verdict within 15 days.

On February 22, the HC had accepted Khaleda’s appeal challenging the trial court verdict sentencing her to five years’ imprisonment in the graft case. The fine order against the BNP chief was later stayed.

On February 25, after hearing Khaleda’s bail petition, the same bench of the HC kept its order pending till it received the records of the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case from the trial court. On February 20, the BNP chairperson filed an appeal before the HC, challenging her sentencing in the graft case.

On February 8, the special judge’s court-5 of Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to five years’ rigorous imprisonment after it found her and five others guilty in the graft case.

The court also awarded jail sentences to Tarique Rahman, now the acting chairman of the BNP, and four others for 10 years and fined them Tk. 2.10 crore, saying that all the six convicts have to pay the fine in equal amounts. Khaleda was sent to the Old Central Jail with the conviction warrant after the verdict.

The trial court took more than 11 days to provide the certified copies of the verdict to Khaleda. The documents were given on February 19.

The BNP chief was in jail for more than a month by the time the court sent the case dockets to the HC on Sunday.

The ACC filed the graft case with Ramna police station in July 2008, accusing the six of misappropriating over Tk. 2.1 crore that had come from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.

According to pro-BNP lawyers, the BNP chief faced 37 cases and the police have submitted charges in 17 of these. Of the cases, four were filed during the tenure of the Army-backed 1/11 government that ruled between 2006 and 2008. The cases pertained to corruption in cases related to Barapukuria Coal Mine, GATCO, NIKO and the Zia Orphanage Trust.

Among the 37, lower courts have also issued arrest warrants against Khaleda in five cases as she did not appear before the courts in accordance with their orders.

MK/MK

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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