The Dhaka Special Judge’s Court-9 on Wednesday adjourned until January 3, 2019 the hearing on indictment of the jailed BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and nine others in Niko graft case filed during the military-backed interim regime in 2007.
Special judge Md Mahmudul Kabir passed the order in the packed makeshift courtroom inside the old Dhaka Central Jail, where the former prime minister was sent being jailed in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8.
The order came after Khaleda argued that her lawyers would not be able to attend the court as they would be busy campaigning for the parliamentary elections rescheduled for December 30.
Khaleda, in a wheelchair, pointing at Anti-Corruption Commission prosecutor Mohsharraf Hossain Kajol, said that he would also be busy as he bought nomination form from the ruling Awami League.
Khaleda, now on bail in the case, also asked why her cases were being tried so fast in comparison to other cases and said that they were appearing before the courts while the AL leaders continued electioneering.
Moudud Ahmed, an accused, said that they would be busy with election activities.
As the court wanted Moudud to complete his hearing in the next date of hearing, Moudud replied that they would definitely appear before the court if they won the polls ‘but I cannot say whether we can come if we lose as we will be afflicted with sorrow.’
On the day, Moudud argued that the memorandum of understating to initiate the deal was finalised in 1999, when the Awami League was in power.
He argued that former state minister for power, energy and mineral resources Rafiqul Islam finalised all deals but none of them were implicated in the case.
Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain argued that Moudud should not read out all the charge sheet rather he could read out only the portion where he was named.
Defence counsel Masud Uddin Ahmed Talukdar then told the court that Mosharraf Hossain would also be busy in coming days as he bought nomination form from the Awami League and ‘we want him to be the next state minster for law as former chief prosecutor has become the law minister.’
During the hearing, Khaleda wondered why she was cordoned off by so many cops inside the court and why her lawyers were not given chair.
After the hearing, Khaleda in the courtroom talked to her lawyers, many of whom were seeking nomination for polls.
She also held a meeting with Moudud and her lawyers Zainul Abedin, Mahbub Uddin Khokon and Ahmed Azam Khan.
Emerging from the meeting, Ahmed Azam Khan said that they discussed about all cases filed against Khaleda but no political issue.
He said that they believed that Khaleda would contest the polls and she was told about the legal matter.
Khaleda and four others appeared before the court.
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.
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