Khaleda declines to appear before court set up in jail

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The Dhaka special judge’s court-5 is scheduled for today to hear arguments on trial of jailed BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in Zia Charitable Trust case in her absence from the makeshift courtroom set up inside old Dhaka central Jail.
Judge Md Akhteruzzaman passed the order on Wednesday when the prison authority informed the court that Khaleda was unwilling to appear before the makeshift court.
Referring to the prison authority’s notes, the court asked Khaleda’s defence counsel to come up with arguments on trial Khaleda without her presence.
In hour-long hearing, Aminul Islam, a defence counsel for two other accused — Ziaul Islam Munna and Monirul Islam Khan — placed an application for no holding the trial inside the jail on 10 grounds.
Khaleda’s counsel Sanaullah Miah also moved a petition of Khaleda, saying that they informed the chief justice that trial inside jail was unlawful and urged the home minister to arrange Khaleda’s treatment at United Hospital or Apollo Hospitals.
Anti-Corruption Commission prosecutor Musharraf Hossain Kajol branded the arguments as baseless and asked why the defence counsel came to the court with applications if it was unlawful.
Aminul argued that the gazette issued for the makeshift court inside the jail prison had not mentioned the name of the judge.
He argued that it was not an open court as it was inside the jail, one needed to enter the jail crossing the main gate to reach the court and prison wardens and law enforcers were guarding the area.
‘As the defence lawyers had to enter the court with the permission of the prison wardens and police, it is not possible for general public to see or observe the trial,’ he contended.
‘The narrow room cannot be called an open court,’ he said referring to the constitution and Code of Criminal Procedure.
The setting up of the court basically contradicts the spirit of the Supreme Court verdict in Mazdar Hossain case over the independence of judiciary.
‘The courtroom is like a cave, damp and it is difficult to breathe normally.’ He also argued there was a fear of suffocation inside the makeshift courtroom.
‘It’s former Dhaka Central Jail, and the court was relocated here to facilitate Khaleda Zia to move in wheelchair as the prison authorities had no suitable car to carry her to and from the court,’ the prosecutor argued.
Jailed Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia on September 5 said that there was no justice as she appeared in the makeshift courtroom inside the jail on Najimuddin Road.
‘There is no justice here. Punish me as much as you want, but I cannot appear here [the court] frequently as I am sick,’ the former prime minister told the court.
Only police and members of different intelligence agencies, prosecutors and journalists were seen at the courtroom, and everyone but the law enforcers had to drop their mobile phones at the entrance.
A photographer and a videographer from Dhaka Metropolitan Police were seen capturing photo and video of whoever entering the courtroom at former administrative building of the jail after crossing five-tire security check.
The journalists were kept cordoned by a dozen of the cops in the court.
On August 8, 2011, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case with Tejgaon police station accusing four people, including Khaleda, of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.

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