Two others were also jailed in the case
An MP of the BNP was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday, in a tax evasion case, putting a dent in the political party’s already small representation in parliament.
Harunur Rashid, one of only seven sitting BNP MPs in the House, is accused of not paying taxes while importing a Tk11.65 lakh luxury vehicle in 2004.
Judge Shaikh Nazmul Alam of Dhaka Special Judge Court 4 also fined the Chapainawabganj 3 lawmaker Tk50 lakh, upon delivering the verdict yesterday with Harun present in court.
Afterwards, the court cancelled his bail and sent him to jail.
Two others accused in the case — former NTV managing director Enayetur Rahman Bappi and Sky Autos owner Ishtiak Sadek — were also sentenced to two years and three years in prison, respectively.
Enayetur and Ishtiak were also fined Tk1 lakh and Tk40 lakh, respectively.
Harun, Enayetur, and Ishtiak will have to serve six months, two months and six months or more in jail, respectively, if they fail to pay the fines.
The court yesterday also issued arrest warrants for Enayetur and Ishtiak who are still on the run, and said their punishment will be effective from the day of their arrest or surrender.
Harun, a joint secretary general of BNP, was one of his party’s lawmakers who met incarcerated BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia earlier this month at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital.
After meeting her on October 1, Harun had told reporters that Khaleda, who has been in prison since February 8 last year on account of two graft cases, would go abroad for medical treatment if she got bail.
Harun also met with Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader the next day and informed him about Khaleda’s health condition. He had requested Quader to inform Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about Khaleda’s bail situation.
According to case documents, Harun imported a duty-free luxury vehicle for Tk11.65 lakh in 2004, when he was the BNP lawmaker from Chapainawabganj 3 in the eighth parliament.
Later, he and Ishtiak sold the Hummer to Enayetur for Tk97 lakh, violating government rules and evading taxes.
Tejgaon police station Sub-Inspector Md Yunus Ali filed the case against Harun and the two others on March 17, 2007.
Later, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) submitted the charge sheet against the three in the case on July 18, 2007, and the trial started on August 20.
The court registered statements of 17 prosecution witnesses before delivering the verdict.
Meanwhile, BNP leaders and activists yesterday demonstrated in Chapainawabganj, protesting the conviction and jailing of MP Harun.
Condemning Harun’s conviction in the “false case,” during the protest rally held in front of the party office in the town’s Pathanpara area around 4:30pm, they demanded his acquittal and release from jail.
Earlier in the afternoon, Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leaders and activists also brought out processions in Chapainawabganj protesting the verdict.
Additional reporting by Md Anwar Hossain from Chapainawabganj.