Dhaka: A special court, set up at the Old Dhaka Central Jail, yesterday fixed September 20 for delivering its order on a petition filed by the government for continuing trial proceedings against Khaleda Zia in her absence in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case. The government filed the petition after the jail authorities informed the court that Khaleda Zia was not willing to appear before the court.
After hearing both sides, the special judge court-5 of Md Akhteruzzaman said that it would pass its order on September 20 whether the trial proceedings in the corruption case would continue in the absence of the BNP chairperson.
Earlier, lawyers of the BNP chief filed a petition filed before the court, seeking its order to allow advocate Masud Ahmed Talukder and advocate Sanaullah Miah to meet Khaleda Zia in jail.
But the court said that the jail authorities would take a decision as per the jail code provision
The court also said that it would pass its order on September 20 on the petition filed by the BNP chief, seeking extension of her bail in the case.
After hearing both the defence and prosecution, the special court set up in the jail fixed the date for delivering its orders on the petitions.
During yesterday’s proceedings, advocate Masud Ahmed Talukder, one of the counsels for Khaleda, told the court that it could not run the trial proceedings in the absence of Khaleda Zia as she is now in the custody of the court.
“She is seriously ill. She informed the court earlier about the illness. So, the hearing should be adjourned till she recovers,” he said.
The government has formed a medical board to look after the BNP chief’s health condition. The scenario will change if the BNP chief recovers from her illness, he added.
Advocate Sanaullah Miah, another counsel of the BNP chief, told the court that they have submitted a petition before the court, seeking its permission to visit the BNP chief in jail.
“If you allow us to visit the BNP chief, we will inform you about her latest stand and whether she is willing to appear before the court. The court should adjourn the hearing for some days so that we can meet the BNP chief and inform the court about her latest position,” Miah said.
Opposing their submission, prosecution lawyer advocate Mosarraf Hossain Kajol told the court that as per Section 540 (A) of the Criminal Procedure of Code, the court could run the trial proceedings against an accused even if he/she is unwilling to appear before the court.
The lawyers can represent the accused during the trial proceedings in his/her absence. So, the court should run the trial proceedings against Khaleda Zia in her absence as she is unwilling to appear before the court, Kajol said.
However, defence lawyers said Section 540 (A) of the CrPC is not applicable to the BNP chief as she is now under the custody of the court. This section is applicable for those accused persons who are not under the custody of court.
Later, the court fixed the date for delivering its order on the matter.
Earlier, the proceedings used to take place in a makeshift court in the Bakshibazar area. On September 4, the law ministry issued a gazette notification, saying the trial in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case would be held in the Old Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road.
It was said in the gazette notification that the decision was made after taking Khaleda’s security into consideration.
During the first hearing in the Old Central Jail on September 5, 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 (ACC) filed the Zia Charitable Trust 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.
On February 8, the same special court awarded Khaleda five years’ rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. Since then, the BNP chief has been languising behind bars.
The ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case with Ramna police station in July 2008, accusing six persons, including Khaleda, of misappropriating over Tk. 2.1 crore that came from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.
Meanwhile, a court yesterday denied bail to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a case filed over the torching of a covered van in Chouddagram upazila in 2015, reports UNB.
Judge of the District and Session’s Judge Court KM Shamsul Alam passed the order after hearing a bail petition moved by BNP chief’s lawyers. Earlier on Wednesday, the court deferred the bail hearing until yesterday. The court heard both the defence and prosecution in the morning and passed the order in the afternoon.
On January 25, 2015, a covered van was set on fire at Haiderpool of Chouddagram municipality on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
The following day, sub-inspector Nuruzzaman of Chouddagram Police Station filed a case against the BNP Chairperson and 31 other leaders and activists of the party over the incident.