Hasina should be also brought in court for Niko trial: Khaleda

Bangla Tribune Report
Published : 17:31, Nov 08, 2018 | Updated : 17:46, Nov 08, 2018

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia attends a rally in Dhaka October 20, 2013. REUTERS FILE PHOTOThe Niko deal was signed with the Awami League in office and the BNP-led administration just maintained the continuity, BNP chief Khaleda Zia said in court on Thursday.
She is among the 11 people accused of abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko Resources Ltd during her tenure as the prime minister.
The hearing for the case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) began after a long time, with Khaleda appearing in a special judge’s makeshift court inside the old jailhouse in Dhaka.
“Sheikh Hasina was an accused in the same case; she was acquitted, but not me. If I’m produced before the court then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina should also be produced before the court in the graft case,” the three-time premier told the court.
She also said that she was sick and can’t attend court.
In response, Dhaka Special Judges-9 Mahmudul Kabir said, “There’s no option to bring her in court as she is not a part of this trial.”
Earlier in the day, Khaleda was discharged from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital upon approval from the medical board formed for her treatment.
“Her physical condition is now stable enough. The hospital authorities have tried to provide her with adequate medical care,” said BSMMU Hospital’s Director Abdullah Al Harun.
She was then driven to the old Dhaka Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road.
A wheelchair-bound Khaleda appeared in the makeshift courtroom inside the prison premises around 12pm. BNP leader Moudud Ahmed, a lawyer and one of the accused in the case, opened the hearing on the charges against himself.
The judge adjourned the court proceedings setting the next hearing for Nov 14. The hearing on charges against Khaleda is likely to take place on the day.
She has been taken back to her prison cell after the hearing.
The ACC filed the case in 2007 against accusing Khaleda and 10 others of allegedly causing a loss of Tk 137 billion to the state exchequer by awarding gas deals to Canada-based Niko.
Khaleda was jailed for five years on Feb 8 in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, which was later doubled to 10 years by the High Court.
On Oct 6, she was moved to the BSMMU Hospital from the jailhouse for treatment.
A trial court sentenced her to seven years in jail on Oct 29 in the Zia Charitable Trust grafts case. The next day, the High Court doubled her jail term in the Orphanage Trust graft case.
The government moved to finish the trial of the Niko graft case filed during the military-backed caretaker administration’s emergency regime.