A Dhaka court today issued arrest warrants against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and two others for skipping court hearing in the Zia Orphanage and Zia Charitable Trust graft cases.
The other accused facing the arrest warrants are: former BNP lawmaker Kazi Saleemul Haq alias Econo Kamal and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed.
The court also asked advocate Sanaullah Mia, who is representing Tarique Rahman, another accused and senior vice chairman of the BNP, to produce him before it on March 4, the next date for the hearing of the cases.
Tarique has been living in London since 2008.
After the Special Judge Court-3 sat for the day’s proceedings at its makeshift court set up in Bakshibazar area today, the defence counsels moved separate adjournment petitions for the two graft cases.
The lawyers also submitted non-appearance petitions on behalf of Khaleda saying she could not appear before the court due to security reasons, Defence counsel Zainul Abedin Meshbah told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, separate petitions were submitted on behalf of Kamal and Sharfuddin seeking adjournment of the proceedings of the two cases until the disposal of a writ petition expressing no-confidence on Judge Md Abu Ahmed Jomadar of the trial court, which is pending with the High Court now.
Meanwhile, Kamal and Sharfuddin’s lawyers placed separate petitions.
Judge Md Abu Ahmed Jomadar of the court rejected the petitions and issued arrest warrant against the three.
Later, the court started recording deposition of Harun-ur-Rashid, deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and also plaintiff of the cases, in Zia Orphanage graft case.
Last time she attended the hearing in Bakshibazar, a skirmish broke out on December 24 with supporters of BNP and the ruling Awami League clashing for over an hour.
On January 29, the judge fixed today (February 25) for hearing the two graft cases filed against Khaleda and 8 others and asked the BNP chief to appear before the court.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed Zia Orphanage graft case in 2009 for embezzlement of over Tk 2.1 crore. The other case was filed in 2011 for abuse of power in creating the charitable trust.
Judge Bashudev Roy of the special court on March 19, 2014 framed charges against Khaleda and eight others in the two graft cases.
Hours after the order, Khaleda submitted two petitions with the High Court expressing no confidence on Special Judges Court-3 of Dhaka Judge Basudev Roy, who framed charges against Khaleda and eight others in Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust graft cases.
The High Court upheld the indictment order rejecting Khaleda’s petitions on April 23 the same year.
The Supreme Court on November 24 cleared the way for the lower court to continue the trial proceedings against Khaleda by rejecting her two appeals challenging two HC decisions regarding acceptance of charges and charge framing in the case.
On December last year, Jamadar was appointed as a new judge at the court after the government transferred Judge Roy to the position of a special judge in Patuakhali.