Jailed Bangladesh nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia was taken to the old Dhaka Central Jail again on Thursday from Bangabndhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University hospital.
The former prime minister produced in a makeshift courtroom inside the jail in a wheelchair from the hospital as the Dhaka Special Judge’s Court 9 began the hearing in framing of charges in Niko graft case against Khaleda and 10 others after a long moratorium.
Khaleda urged the court the court of Mahmudul Kabir to bring prime minister Sheikh Hasina too to justice for a deal with Canadian oil and gas company Niko.
Khaleda, now on bail in the case, told the court that both former prime ministers Hasina and Khaleda were named in similar cases filed with Tejagaon police station in December 2017, bearing case number 19 and 20 of December 2007 respectively, for the deal with Niko.
She said that the Niko deal was signed by Awami League government led by Hasina and the BNP government just maintained its continuity.
Judge Mahmudul Kabir said that Hasina was not named in the present case so there was no scope to bring her before the court in the case.
The court also deferred until November 14 the hearing in framing of charges in the Niko graft case.
During the hearing, former law minister Moudud Ahmed, one of the 11 accused, argued that the Niko deal was signed on June 14, 2001, when the Awami League was in power and Hasina was prosecuted in 2007 for the deal.
The judge asked Moudud not to refer the case against Hasina as that was not before the court.
Khaleda in a wheelchair reacted asking why Hasina would not be brought to justice.
Khaleda was brought to the makeshift courtroom inside the jail from the hospital 34 days after she was admitted to the hospital with deformity in the hand and frozen shoulder among other chronic illness.
She was taken to a police car in a wheelchair at about 11:30am from the hospital.
The medical university hospital director brigadier general Abdullah Al Harun told reporters that Khaleda was released from the hospital as her health condition was ‘stable enough’.
‘We have tried to provide her with best medical treatment over the one month. BSMMU doctors will visit her for treatment in the jail if the authorities want,’ he said.
On her way to jail from the courtroom, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had a brief conversation with Khaleda in the presence of jail guards.
Fakhrul Islam later told reporters that she was severely sick, but she was released from the hospital without doctors’ recommendation.
Later in the evening, Liberal Democratic Party president Oli Ahmad after a meeting of BNP-led alliance said that Khaleda was denied of treatment at the hospital and was taken to the court without permission from the medical board formed for her treatment.
He also demanded her immediate release for her better treatment.
A police official on duty in the court also said that Khaleda looked annoyed and sick during the hearing and was disturbed for
producing her before the court.
Earlier on Wednesday, the law ministry issued a gazette notification saying that the trial of Khaleda and other accused in the Niko corruption case would be held at the makeshift courtroom inside the jail.
Ailing Khaleda was taken to the hospital on October 6 following a High Court order to treat her there.
Khaleda landed in jail on February 8, when the Dhaka Special Judge’s Court 5 jailed her for five years in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. Later the sentence was enhanced to 10 years and she was also jailed for seven years by the same court in Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the Niko case on December 9, 2007, during the military-backed interim regime.
Charges were pressed against 11 people, including Khaleda, on May 5, 2008, for allegedly causing a loss of Tk 137 billion to the state by awarding gas exploration contract to Canadian company Niko Resources.
The High Court on July 9, 2008 stayed the proceedings in the case and asked the government to explain the legality of the case following a petition filed by Khaleda.
On June 18, 2015, the High Court rejected Khaleda’s petition.
On November 30, 2015, Khaleda surrendered to the trial court and secured bail in the case.
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