FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police to testify
A Dhaka court has asked BNP Chief Khaleda Zia and 10 others to appear before the court on January 3 in the Niko graft case filed with Tejgaon police on December 9, 2007.
Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of Dhaka Special Judge Court 9, who has set up court in the old Dhaka central jail, fixed the date on Sunday after accepting a time petition filed by Khaleda’s counsel, Abdur Razzak Khan.
The special court also fixed January 3 to hold a hearing on a petition seeking permission to produce an FBI special agent and two members of the Canadian police in the Niko corruption case.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, then the prime minister, and her son Tarique Rahman, received a portion of kickbacks via a proxy, paid by Canada-based Niko Resources Ltd, to lease some Sylhet gas fields, according to an investigation conducted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to the investigation reports, seen by the Dhaka Tribune, the BNP leader Khaleda Zia and then law minister Moudud Ahmed, played a key role in Canada-based Niko securing the contract.
After the BNP-led alliance government took office in 2001, Niko signed two deals with Bapex and PetroBangla.
One was a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with Bapex to develop two “marginal” gas fields in Sylhet’s Chhatak and Feni in 2003, and the other was a Gas Purchase and Sales Agreement (GPSA) in 2006 with PetroBangla.
In a press briefing on November 22, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said his office made a petition to a special court in Dhaka to include two Canadian police officials and an FBI agent to testify in the case.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lodged the case against Khaleda and 10 others in 2007.
On November 7, the Law Ministry issued a gazette notification indicating that the trial of Khaleda Zia and others accused in the Niko corruption case will be held at the makeshift court in Old Dhaka central jail. The ministry issued the gazette notification transferring the court, citing security reasons.
Khaleda Zia has been in Dhaka Central Jail at Nazimuddin Road since she was sentenced to five years imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8.
The High Court on October 30 increased Khaleda Zia’s punishment to 10 years imprisonment in the case.
Khaleda Zia was also convicted in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case and was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by Special Judge Court-5 on October 29.