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Dhaka Tribune

2023: Verdicts, arrests rose at year-end

  • Over 1,500 BNP-Jamaat leaders sentenced in around 100 cases
  • At least five expelled AL leaders face jail sentence
  • More than 500 BNP men indicted in over 500 cases
Update : 01 Jan 2024, 11:53 PM

The country witnessed a spree of pronouncement of verdicts and issuance of arrest warrants, including some in sensational cases, and rampant arrests towards the end of last year.

The punishment and arrests of political figures increased dramatically as the political arena heated up due to the parliamentary elections slated for January 7 and the BNP’s movement demanding the release of party Chairperson Khaleda Zia and the resignation of the government.

The most-discussed verdict was the sentencing of BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman and his wife, Dr Zubaida Rahman—both staying in London since 2008—in a corruption case. Apart from this, proceedings in over a dozen cases against former prime minister Khaleda Zia had to be deferred multiple times due to her illness.

On the other hand, the law enforcers arrested BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, several Standing Committee members, and thousands of leaders and activists across the country in connection with violence that occurred during the party’s movement demanding the ouster of the government.

Moreover, police pressed charges in many of the old political cases, while courts issued arrest warrants against the fugitive accused. At the end of the year, many cases against BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists saw verdicts.

According to Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, since July 28, the law enforcers have arrested 23,471 leaders and activists and sued 87,143 in 980 cases across the country.

Tarique-Zubaida's imprisonment

On August 2, a Dhaka court sentenced Tarique Rahman to nine years in prison and his wife to three years in prison in a corruption case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in 2007. The court also fined Tarique Tk3 crore and Zubaida Tk45 lakh. The court premises became heated around this verdict. Lawyers loyal to the BNP and the Awami clashed during the hearing of the case.

Jail sentence for BNP-Jamaat activists

Verdicts were handed down in only a handful of cases against BNP-Jamaat activists from the beginning to the middle of the year. However, in the latter half of the year, judgements were pronounced almost every day. According to court sources, more than 1,500 activists of the BNP-Jamaat have been sentenced to prison in more than 100 cases. Among them are BNP Chairperson's Adviser Habibur Rahman Habib, Vice Chairman and former member of parliament Md Shahjahan, former lawmaker Mohammad Ahsan Habib aka Lincoln, Village Government Affairs Deputy Secretary Mohammad Belal Ahmed, Joint Secretary Habib Un Nabi Khan Sohail, Information Affairs Secretary Azizul Bari Helal, Volunteer Affairs Secretary Mir Sarfat Ali Sapu, Jubo Dal President Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Jubo Dal’s former president Saiful Alam Nirab, and Dhaka Metropolitan (South) Joint General Secretary Rabiul Alam.

Commencement of trials

Several courts framed charges against more than 500 BNP leaders and activists in over 500 cases. Notable among the indicted leaders and activists are Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Khairul Kabir Khokon, Amanullah Aman, Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie, Saiful Alam Nirab, Shah Alam, Harun Ur Rashid, Habibur Rahman, and others.

Arrest warrants issued

Compared to other years, 2023 was very scary for the BNP leaders and activists since the courts issued arrest warrants against most of the accused as they were absconding at the time of the framing of charges. Those facing arrest warrants include Amanullah Aman, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Barkat Ullah Bulu, Ruhul Quddus Talukdar Dulu, Saiful Alam Nirab, and Ishaq Sarkar.

Khaleda's trial in Niko graft case

On March 19, Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of Dhaka's Ninth Special Judge Court ordered the trial of eight people, including Khaleda Zia, in the Niko corruption case. Subsequently, testimony in the case started quickly. Two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and an FBI officer testified in the temporary court set up in Dhaka's Keraniganj Central Jail.

Judgements in much-talked-about cases

Helena Jahangir: On March 20, Dhaka's Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Tofazzal sentenced five people, including expelled Awami League leader Helena Jahangir, to two years in prison in a case of fraud and extortion.

DIG Mizan: On June 21, a Dhaka court sentenced former DIG Mizanur Rahman to 14 years’ imprisonment in a case filed for acquiring assets illegally and money laundering.

GK Shamim: On July 17, another special court sentenced SM Golam Kibria Shamim, alias GK Shamim, to 10 years in prison in a money laundering case filed with the Gulshan police station. His seven bodyguards were sentenced to four years in prison in this case.

Shahed Karim: On August 21, Regent Hospital Limited Chairman Mohammad Shahed Karim was sentenced to three years in prison for acquiring illegal wealth.

Enu-Rupon brothers: On November 28, a Dhaka court sentenced expelled Awami League leader Enamul Haque Enu and his brother Rupon Bhuiyan to seven years in jail in a case of money laundering. Enu, a former director of Wanderers’ Club, previously served as the vice president of the Gandaria unit of the Awami League, while Rupon was the general secretary of the unit. They accumulated huge wealth through engaging in illegal casino business.

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