Khaleda Zia waving at supporters at a court yesterday. -AA
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has received bail after surrendering to the court presiding over the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Welfare Trust graft cases.
The BNP chief has also been allowed to continue her defense statement prior to the opening arguments. The Dhaka Special Judge's Court-5 made the decision after petitions from Khaleda yesterday morning. She began her defense statement in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case immediately after the decision.
On July 3, 2008 the Anti Corruption Commission filed a case against the BNP chief and five others for embezzling foreign money for orphans. The investigating officer submitted the charge-sheet to the court on August 5, 2009. Five years later, on March 19, 2014, the six suspects were indicted.
The Zia Welfare Trust graft case filed on August 8, 2010 accuses five, including the BNP chief, of embezzling Tk 31.5 million from the charity. The charge-sheet was submitted against the suspects on Jan 16, 2014. The trial began on March 19 the following year.
Khaleda Zia was scheduled to begin the seventh day of her defense statement in the Zia Orphanage Trust case on November 30. But she did not appear in court, citing security issues due to the general strike and had her lawyers petition for more time.
The judge dismissed the petition and ordered Khaleda to be arrested over the two cases. The judge also ended her defense statement and ordered the case to proceed, setting December 5-7 to hear the arguments of the ACC and the defense.
Khaleda's lawyer Sanaullah Miah said that the BNP chief had been prepared to attend court after the strike was over, but that the arrest warrants had prevented her doing so. On Tuesday Khaleda's lawyers filed four petitions asking to continue her defense statement, the granting of bail and to change the three consecutive days for hearing arguments.
The petitions were heard starting at 11:30am at the special court premises in Bakshibazar. After the hearing the judge accepted the petitions and allowed Khaleda to continue her defense statement.
On October 19, the first day of her defense statement Khaleda said not one paisa of the money for the Orphanage Trust had been embezzled or misspent and that it was all accounted for at the bank. The 'false' case had been filed for 'political reasons', she said.
On November 2, the third day of her statement, the BNP chief said that the ruling party was planning to disqualify her from the election. On November 11 she said the verdict in the case would prove how the judiciary could not make independent decisions.
On November 16 she said she was unsure if she could receive justice given the current state of the judiciary. Finally, on November 23 she questioned the recruitment and promotion of the ACC investigating officer in the case.
That same day she began her defense statement in the Zia Welfare Trust case, stating she was 'completely innocent'.
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