Khaleda’s jail term doubled to 10 years

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The jail term of ailing detained former prime minister and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia was on Tuesday increased from five to 10 years in Shahheed Ziaur Rahman Orphanage Trust Case by the High Court Division.
The three sentence verdict, its operative part was pronounced by a bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman.
It took the bench just one minute to readout the prepared verdict amid tight security.
At 10.30AM sharp the bench began to readout the verdict and left the courtroom in haste.
Khaleda is undergoing treatment for chronic arthritis on her knees and waist causing deformities on her left hand together with frozen shoulder. The hospital cabin of Bangabnadhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University where she was shifted from the abandoned Old Dhaka Central Jail was declared as sub-jail.
As the ruling Awami League minded lawyers occupied the front seats on the left side of the isle, the bench asked them are you defence lawyers? As soon as they said ‘No,’ they were asked to vacate for the defence counsels.
The Supreme Court’s High Court Division sits at 10.30 AM while its Appellate Division sits at 9AM.
Khaleda’s case was the day’s first item for the bench which sat again at 11.30 AM.
In the first sentence, the verdict dismissed all the three appeals to set aside convictions filed by Khaleda Zia and two others, former BNP MP Quazi Saleemul Huq and Sharfuddin Ahmed, a businessman, both already in jail.
Saleem and Sharfuddin were tried and convicted as abettors.
The third sentence increased Khaleda’s jail term to 10 years as the Anti-Corruption Commission had prayed for.
The second sentence made absolute the ruling that had asked Khaleda to explain why her jail term would not be increased.
Khaleda’s lawyers boycotted the verdict delivery.
Later, her lawyer Mahbub Udidn Khokon told reporters that Khaleda got no justice from the High Court Division as well as the trial court.
He said that even before the defence could complete their arguments the High Court Division closed the case and hurriedly delivered the verdict.
He said that the verdict would satisfy the government’s malafide intention to disqualify Khaleda Zia from contesting the general election.
Khokon said that there was no instance of the High Court Division dismissing appeals and doubling the jail term in such hurry within months of the lower court giving sentence in the same year.
He said that on February 8, 2018 the lower court handed five years’ jail to Khaleda Zia and now on October 30, 2018, the High Court Division doubled her jail term after dismissing her appeal.
He described the hurry shown by the High Court Division as ‘unprecedented’.
He said that it was equally unprecedented that in July the Appellate Division set October 31 as the deadline for the High Court Division to dispose of Khaleda’s appeal against the sentence of the lower court.
The Supreme Court Bar Association decided to boycott the proceedings of both the divisions of the Supreme Court from 9AM to 1 PM today in protest against the executive’s interference with the judiciary.
SCBA president Zainul Abedin announced the decision at a press conference.
He protested against the police in an unprecedented move debarring lawyers from entering the courtroom where the verdict was delivered against Khaleda Zia.
But the attorney general, the deputy attorneys general, Awami League minded lawyers and the Anti-corruption Commission lawyers found no problem entering the courtroom.
BNP minded lawyers took out processions in the SCBA Bhaban chanting slogans, ‘illegal verdict in false case.
Khaleda Zia would not be able to contest the general election unless she gets acquittals in Zia Orphanage Trust Case and the Zia Charitable Trust Case, attorney general Mahbubey Alam told reporters later.
On Monday, the lower court sentenced Khaleda to seven years’ jail in the Zia Charitable Trust Case.
On August 8, 2011, the ACC filed the Zia Charitable Trust Case against Khaleda Zia.
Zia Orphanage Trust Case was filed against her in 2008.

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