Senior leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, or BNP, on Tuesday briefed foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka about the country’s overall situation centering on a special court’s verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against the party chief, Khaleda Zia.
A group of BNP leaders, led by BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, apprised the diplomats of the party's observations about the trial proceedings of the case and some other issues relating to the verdict.
Diplomats from the United Nations and around 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, India, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, France, Turkey, Kuwait, Vatican City and Vietnam, attended the nearly one-and-a-half-hour meeting that began around 4:15pm at the BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office in Dhaka.
Earlier on Thursday, the Special Court-5 in Dhaka fixed February 8 to deliver its verdict in the case against Khaleda and five others.
On July 3, 2008, during the quasi-military regime of Fakhruddin Ahmed, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the graft case, accusing Khaleda, her elder son BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman and four others of misappropriating over Tk2.10 crore that had come as grants from a foreign bank for orphans.
Emerging from Tuesday’s meeting, Fakhrul said they exchanged their views with the diplomats about the country’s latest political situation. “It was like a routine briefing as we did in the past.”
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However, some BNP leaders present at the meeting said they presented a total political and human rights situation of the country and the government’s repressive acts before the foreign envoys.
They also told the envoys that though the BNP chief’s had no involvement in any kind of irregularities, the government implicated her in the graft case with false documents only to take political vengeance on her.
The BNP leaders feared that the government may try to influence the court to unlawfully convict her to make her disqualified for the next polls.
They also provided the diplomats with some documents and clippings relating to the prime minister and some ministers’ comments on the under-trial case and its possible verdict.
Among other central leaders, BNP Standing Committee members Moudud Ahmed, Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury were present.
Police detain 69 BNP men
Meanwhile, police detained 69 leaders and activists of BNP as they allegedly attacked law enforcers and snatched two of their peers vandalizing a prison van in front of the High Court on Tuesday afternoon.
According to police and witnesses, several hundred BNP men gathered around the High Court’s Mazar gate area in the morning as BNP chief Khaleda was scheduled to appear before the special court at Bakshibazar in another case, the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
Also Read - BNP men attack police, snatch two activists from prison van
Police detained two BNP activists from the area and kept them inside a prison van under police guard.
When Khaleda was returning to her Gulshan residence through the area in the afternoon, leaders and activists started demonstrating and at one stage, they attacked police and “snatched” the two detained activists after vandalizing the prison van, said Maruf Hosain Sarder, deputy commissioner (Ramna Division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
The demonstrators also broke two rifle butts of police as law enforcers tried to resist them, he added.
‘Anarchists to face stern actions’
DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah the same day warned that stern actions would be taken if anyone tries to create anarchy centring on the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case verdict.
He issued the warning after inspecting the Bangla Academy premises ahead of the Amar Ekushey book fair.
“No one is above the law. If anyone tries to break it and create an anarchic situation, he or she will be punished,” he said, adding that all necessary measures would be taken to ensure security on February 8.