A Dhaka court today deferred the charge frame hearing for the seventh time in the graft case of the Zia Charitable Trust, which accuses BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and three others.
Judge Md Motahar Hossain of the Special Judge Court-3 passed the order following a petition for a time extension by the defence lawyer Sanaullah Mia.
In the petition, the counsel said the former prime minister was busy with her three-day visit to North Bengal as part of the movement for the restoration of the caretaker government system.
The BNP leader started her journey from her Gulshan residence on Saturday afternoon.
She was also busy “making preparations” to attend the next parliament session, so she could not appear before the court, said Khaleda’s lawyer.
He stated that as per the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Assembly Members’ Privileges Act 1965, during a session, no member of parliament could be asked to appear in any civil, criminal or revenue court or any election tribunal.
Another accused Monirul Islam Khan, the assistant private secretary of the former DCC mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka, filed a similar petition seeking a time extension.
Anti-Corruption Commission’s lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajol opposed the petitions for time extension.
However, after hearing the petitions, the court granted the extension to the accused and set October 6 for the charge frame hearing.
On April 9, Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge Mohammad Zahurul Haque set May 22 for hearing on the acceptance of the charge sheet placed against Khaleda in connection with the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
On January 15, the court took cognisance of charges against Khaleda and three others in the case.
On August 8, 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case with Tejgaon police station accusing the four, including Khaleda, of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.
ACC Deputy Director Harunur Rashid, the investigation officer of the case, pressed charges against the accused on January 16, 2012.
According to the case statement, a 2809 sq metre piece of land in the city’s Kakrail area was bought by the trust from one Suraiya Khanam for Tk65.2m in January 2005.
The other accused are Khaleda Zia’s former political secretary Harris Chowdhury and Harris’ former assistant personal secretary Ziaul Islam Munna. Harris Chowdhury left the country in 2007 and has been staying abroad since. He was mentioned in the charge sheet as an “absconding accused” while Ziaul and Monirul are now on bail.