The Dhaka Special Judge Court-9 on Monday deferred until February 16 the charge hearing in the Niko graft case against BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and 10 others.
Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of the court passed the order in the newly-built courtroom in front of Keraniganj Central Jail in response to a prayer from the BNP chief’s lawyer for further time.
Monday was set for the charge hearing but Khaleda Zia’s lawyer submitted a petition to the court stating that she was not in a position to appear before the court on health grounds and sought some more time for the hearing on the charges against the accused.
Allowing the defence plea, the court adjourned the hearing until February 16.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case against five persons, including Khaleda Zia, with the Tejgaon police station on December 9 in 2007 for abusing power in signing a deal with Canadian company Niko for exploring and extracting gas.
The anti-graft agency on May 5, 2008 submitted the charge sheet against 11 people, including Khaleda Zia, in the case.
The other accused in the case are the then law minister and BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed, the then state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain, the then principal secretary to the prime minister Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, the then acting secretary at the ministry of energy and mineral resources Khandaker Shahidul Islam, the then Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited secretary Mohammad Shafiur Rahman, the then senior assistant secretary CM Yusuf Hossain, the then BAPEX general manager Mir Moinul Haque, businessman Gias Uddin Al Mamun, the then Bagerhat MP MAH Selim and Niko’s then vice-president for South Asia Kashem Sharif.
The ACC accused them of causing a loss of more than Tk 13,000 crore to the state exchequer through that deal with Niko.
In 2003, Niko Resources (Bangladesh) Ltd, a subsidiary of the Canadian corporation, signed a joint venture agreement with BAPEX to develop gas fields in Feni and Chhatak.
Petrobangla subsequently agreed to buy the gas extracted from the Feni field under a gas purchase and sales agreement.
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