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Khaleda Zia’s self-defense statement
Khaleda Zia’s self-defense statement
While placing her self-defense statement on October 16 in a Dhaka court in connection with Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, BNP Chief Khaleda Zia got emotional and said Zia Orphanage case was ‘fake’ as it had been filed against her with a political motive.

“All the cases filed against me are fake. What crime did I commit for which I have to appear in court again and again? I want to restore democracy and people’s rights and establish peace. Is it any offence for which I am facing harassment and so many cases?” she said.

 

Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman were involved in embezzlement of Tk 2.10 crore by forming a fake trust called ‘Zia Orphanage Trust’. A grant of $ 1,255,000 equivalent to Tk 4.45 crore at that time was transferred in 1991 from United Saudi Commercial Bank to Prime Minister’s orphanage fund named Zia Orphanage Trust, a trust created by Khaleda Zia shortly before transfer of the fund as part of embezzlement scheme.
Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman were involved in embezzlement of Tk 2.10 crore by forming a fake trust called ‘Zia Orphanage Trust’. A grant of $ 1,255,000 equivalent to Tk 4.45 crore at that time was transferred in 1991 from United Saudi Commercial Bank to Prime Minister’s orphanage fund named Zia Orphanage Trust, a trust created by Khaleda Zia shortly before transfer of the fund as part of embezzlement scheme.

 

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) filed Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on July 3, 2008 with Ramna Police Station in Dhaka, charging Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman with grabbing more than Tk 2.10 crore that was received as grants for orphans via a foreign bank.

 

The likelihood of conviction of Khaleda Zia and probable legal punishment against her in this case intensified after the Supreme Court rejected her petition seeking change of the court for hearing the case. The petition aimed at changing the court was earlier rejected by the High Court.

 

If convicted, the accused might face prison sentence for several years and according to law of the country anyone facing a jail term for two years is ineligible for contesting in parliamentary elections. If Khaleda Zia and her son are found guilty and consequently barred from contesting in elections, BNP and its supporters are most likely to create a furore over the court sentence and create a ruckus in the country.

 

In the wake of the trial proceedings Khaleda Zia, while defending herself in the court on November 2, alleged that the government of Sheikh Hasina has entangled her in many politically- motivated court cases including the afore mentioned one, as part of a conspiracy to keep her away from politics and election. But she did not mention that the case was filed by the caretaker government in 2008 when Hasina government was not in power.

Khaleda Zia’s second son Koko (now dead) was sentenced in absentia to six years rigorous imprisonment and fined Tk 38.83 crore in 2011 for laundering Tk 20 crore in Singapore. Bangladesh press carried a front page report on August 27, 2013 stating that ACC has brought back Tk 7.4 crore siphoned off to Singapore by him. This was the second installment. Earlier, on November 22, 2012 the ACC received the first installment Tk 13.6 crore which was also laundered by Koko.

 

“The ruling quarter has made a blueprint with a dishonest political motive to keep me away from politics and declare me disqualified for the next election”, she told the trial court.

 

After skipping the hearings with time petitions for as much as 143 times over the last six years, she appeared before the court on October 19 after returning from London following three month sojourn and obtained bail. The reason that prompted her to postpone her return to Bangladesh repeatedly was her fear of being convicted by court. 

 

“The activities and efforts of the government high-ups clearly prove that I will be denied justice. The people’s perception of the matter is the same,” she told the court.

 

In another development, Khaleda Zia sought Supreme Court to stay on another graft case, ‘Zia Charitable Trust corruption case’, filed against her and her son by the ACC accusing them of raising funds for the trust from unknown sources through power abuse.

 

She sought permission of Supreme Court for her lawyers to cross-examine nine prosecution witnesses of the case. The High Court, however, observed that there was no need for further cross-examination of these nine witnesses as they have already been cross-examined during the trial proceedings against her son Tarique Rahman in the same case.

 

Appearing before the court, Khaleda Zia told the court that many cases were filed against her and arrest warrants were issued for her and other family members. In a dramatic manner she started shedding tears in court telling how she was forcefully evicted from the Cantonment house where she lived for decades.

 

She mentioned that there were many cases against Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, including corruption, abuse of power, extortion and irregularities. “But Hasina is very lucky that she did not have to appear before court like me”, she added.

 

She said she considers herself an ordinary person, but she has devoted her limited power, ability, merit and knowledge to the cause of the country, its people and their welfare.

 

In fact all that she said in her self-defense statement are irrelevant having no bearing on the case. These are political statements instead of being a self-defense one.

 

It would have been relevant and appropriate for Khaleda Zia to mention how she and her two sons amassed a large fortune after she became Prime Minister. She had earlier spoken of a ‘broken suitcase’ left behind by her husband Gen Ziaur Rahman, the country’s first military dictator, after he was killed.

 

Her elder son Tarique Rahman has been on the run since 2008 to escape trial for corrupt and fraudulent practices resorted to by him for money laundering. Her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko who also resorted to unfair means for the same purpose has recently died abroad.

 

There are a number of instances of Tarique Rahman’s involvement in money laundering, embezzlement, extortion and bribery. During Khaleda Zia’s rule, Tarique was running a parallel administration from Hawa Bhavan (an alternative power center during the BNP regime) along with some of his trusted lieutenants and musclemen. Taking advantage of his mother’s position he became the most powerful and corrupt person in the country through sheer muscle power. His sickness is not so serious that these cannot be treated in Bangladesh warranting him to stay in London for indefinite period. He has been camping in London since September 2008 on the pretext of medical treatment only to evade justice.

 

Khaleda Zia’s second son Koko (now dead) was sentenced in absentia to six years rigorous imprisonment and fined Tk 38.83 crore in 2011 for laundering Tk 20 crore in Singapore. Bangladesh press carried a front page report on August 27, 2013 stating that ACC has brought back Tk 7.4 crore siphoned off to Singapore by him. This was the second installment. Earlier, on November 22, 2012 the ACC received the first installment Tk 13.6 crore which was also laundered by Koko.

 

The trial court is unlikely to be moved by Khaleda Zia’s histrionics or her political statements that were intended mainly to mislead the people. But the people of Bangladesh are mature enough and they cannot be influenced by her efforts to mislead them by shedding crocodile tears and allegations of political vendetta.




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