BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to seven years in jail in a graft case, eight months after being imprisoned in another such case. The judge, who delivered the previous judgement, Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Court-5, on Monday handed down the verdict in Zia Charitable Trust, convicting the former prime minister and three others.
This time around, the judgement was delivered in absence of the leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia, who is now undergoing treatment at a government facility.
The special court conducted its activities in an abandoned jail house in Old Dhakas Nazimuddin Road. Before being taken to hospital, Khaleda was kept in another house there.
The three other convicts in the case are Harris Chowdhury, political affairs secretary to the then prime minister Khaleda between 2001 and 2006; Ziaul Islam Munna, assistant private secretary to Harris; and Monirul Islam Khan, assistant private secretary to former Dhaka city mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
Ziaul and Monirul were, however, produced before the court while Harris Chowdhury had been absconding.
The judge read out the verdict a couple of hours after the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court gave a go-ahead signal to deliver verdict in the case despite inability of Khaleda Zia to remain present.
A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order rejecting a leave-to-appeal petition filed by Khaleda Zia seeking cancellation of the High Court order clearing the way for continuation of the trial proceedings in the case in her absence.
Khaleda Zia was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on 8 February last.
On 8 August 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Charitable Trust graft case with Tejgaon police station accusing four people, including Khaleda Zia, of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.