Court adjourns till 5 April upholding arrest warrant against Khaleda

A Dhaka Court on Wednesday upheld the arrest warrant it issued against BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia on February 25 but filed the petitions for withdrawal of the warrant and granting of bail before adjourning the proceesings till April 5.
The Special Judge Court-3, set up at the Madrasah Ali ground, Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar passed the order after refusing to entertain the petitions filed by Khaleda seeking withdrawal of the arrest warrants.The court allowed a lawyer for Khaleda’s son and BNP’s senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, who is also an accused in Zia Orphanage Graft Case, to appear on his behalf and take part in the trial proceedings in his absence.
The court on February 25 issued the warrant against Khaleda and two others, rejecting their bail petitions in Zia Orphanage and Zia Charitable Trust Graft Cases. The other two accused are former BNP lawmaker Kazi Salimul Haq and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed.
A former Prime Minister Khaleda did not appear before the court despite having the arrest warrant on her as the government, her lawyers said, failed to ensure adequate security, granting of bail and safe return to her Gulshan office. Instead her lawyers filed petitions seeking withdrawal of the warrants, upholding the bail and deferring the hearings, among others.
According to one account, defence counsel AJ Mohammad Ali told the court that ‘security concerns’ were the reason for her not turning up in the court.
Citing a no confidence motion filed with the High Court over the judge, he said:”This is a media trial which is evident from the judge’s order. We have filed a no confidence motion with the higher court and the matter is yet to be resolved.”
Citing Khaleda’s absence despite an arrest warrant, the judge then asked the prosecution: “She has not appeared in the court. Do her lawyers have the jurisdiction to file such petitions?”
ACC lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajal replied: “She has no jurisdiction to file such petitions as she has not turned up for the hearings,” A heated exchange erupted between the lawyers and after a while the hearing resumed.
After hearing the defence and prosecution, the judge said that the arrest warrant will remain effective and left the court.
ACC lawyer Kajal told reporters after the hearing that the court did not accept Khaleda’s pleas as they do not have any legal grounds. “Khaleda Zia might be arrested any time since the warrant remains effective or she can surrender to the court,” he said replying a query from the media.
Khaleda’s lawyers however said that since the proceedings of the court have been adjourned after filing their petitions, and as there has been no direction from the court about the arrest warrant all activities will remain pending till the next hearing.
According to the prosecutor, they opposed the petition to allow lawyers to represent Khaleda at court as ‘there were no such provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure’.
On the no confidence by defence, he said, ”The judge said he has not done anything that would hinder the trial. The defence is yet to secure an order from the higher court, he said.
In 2008, during the rule of the last military-backed caretaker government, ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against six including Khaleda and her son Tarique Rahman.
It alleged that the defendants misappropriated Tk 21 million from funds meant for the trust, which reportedly came from a foreign bank.
In 2011, the anti-corruption watchdog sued the BNP chief and three others for embezzlement of Tk 31.5 million of the Zia Charitable Trust.- News Desk