BNP high command is now in grip of tension, as trial proceedings in various cases against party chief Khaleda Zia, her son Tarique Rahman and other party colleagues are nearing completion.
Party insiders apprehend that Khaleda, party’s senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman and many top leaders may face convictions of the charges brought against them in different cases.
BNP, which boycotted the 2014 general election, are seemingly taking preparation to participate in the next parliamentary polls but panic grips the party leaders and activists, as many top leaders may be disqualified from joining the polls, if they get convictions.
Khaleda is facing a number of cases involving corruption, murder, sedition, instigating violence, sabotage, defamation, and distortion of the history of Liberation War.
Meanwhile, a large number of BNP leaders and activists, including Tarique Rahman, are facing various corruption and violence cases, and trial proceedings in these cases are going on in full swing.
The fear of conviction of Khaleda, Tarique and other top leaders intensifies in BNP, as two former BNP lawmakers - MA Wahab and Moshiur Rahman - were convicted in a week in two separate graft cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
A Jessore court on Monday sentenced MA Wahab to eight years’ imprisonment while M Mashiur Rahman was given 10 years in jail by the same court on October 25.
Earlier on October 13, 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced former Dhaka City Corporation mayor and BNP vice-chairman Sadeque Hossain Khoka to 13 years in jail in a graft case.
BNP policymakers allege that the government wants to keep the Zia family out of politics. They also alleged that the intension of the government will be fulfilled, if Khaleda and Tarique are convicted on the charges.
During defending herself in court on Thursday, Khaleda Zia also claimed that ‘false’ corruption cases had been filed against her to keep her away from elections.
“In a pre-planned manner, these cases have been filed against me to make me ineligible for the upcoming general elections through convictions and keep me away from politics,” she said.
However, the ruling Awami League leaders claimed that the BNP leaders were facing cases due to their involvement in killing people, massive corruption and violence.
The government has no intervention in the trial proceedings in the cases being faced by BNP leaders, including Khaleda Zia, the AL leaders said
Sources at a Dhaka court said verdicts on BNP bigwigs, including Khaleda and Tarique, are likely to be announced soon as trial proceedings in some cases against them have almost been completed.
The proceedings of the cases which are nearing completion are Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust graft cases filed against Khaleda, Tarique, BNP leaders Abul Harris Chowdhury, Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal and four others, while two other cases filed against BNP leaders Tarique Rahman, Lutfozaman Babar, Abdus Salam and others over the deadly grenade attack on AL rally on August 21, 2004 are also nearing completion.
Khaleda facing 37 cases
Khaleda Zia is facing 37 cases filed under the Special Powers Act, Explosive Substances Act, Penal Code, and Anti-corruption commission Act in the last 10 years on different charges.
Trial proceedings against Khaleda were going on at a snail’s pace in the past few years, but the trials in these cases have picked up momentum in recent times, her lawyers alleged.
Of the cases, Khaleda is facing five cases filed by the ACC. The cases are Gatco corruption case, Barapukuria coal mine graft case, Niko graft case and Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust case.
Trials in the five graft cases are going on with different special judges’ courts in Dhaka.
Of the lawsuits, trial proceedings against Khaleda, Tarique and others in Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust cases are nearing completion. At present, the courts are recording Khaleda’s self-defence statements. Afterwards, the court will hear arguments, then the court will deliver verdicts.
Apart from the corruption cases, Khaleda is also facing 32 others cases filed on different charges, including murder, sedition, and defamation.
Of the cases, nine cases were filed with Darussalam Police Station, one with Gulshan Police Station, one with Fultala Police Station in Khulna, two cases with Jatrabari Police Station and two with Chauddagram Police Station in Comilla.
Cases against Tarique Rahman
Tarique Rahman, who has been staying in London since 2008, is facing at least 80 cases. Of them, around 30 cases were filed on charges of killing, sedition, corruption while the rest were filed on charges of defamation for his alleged defamatory remarks.
Trial proceedings against Tarique are nearing completion in three cases. Two cases were filed over deadly 21 August grenade attack in 2004. Trial proceedings are being held at Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 in the two cases.
The trial will be completed within a short time as the court has already completed recording testimonies of prosecution, defence witnesses and now the prosecution lawyers placing arguments in the cases.
The court will fix date to deliver verdict after completion of the arguments in the cases. Tarique is a fugitive accused in the cases.
Meanwhile, the trial proceeding against Tarique in Zia Orphanage trust graft case is also nearing completion.
Among the other top party leaders, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is facing 84 cases, Mirza Abbas 47, Gayeshar Chandra Roy 38, Rafiquel Islam Miah 37, Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain 16, Moudud Ahmed 12, Tariqul Islam 12 and Nazrul Islam Khan nine cases and 36 cases were filed against MK Anwar who died recently.
BNP central leader Md Sanaullah Miah said Khaleda Zia is facing 37 cases while Tarique Rahman is facing around 100 cases.
“The government filed the cases against BNP chief to harass her politically. The government also wants to keep her out of politics,” Sanaullah, one of the lawyers of Khaleda, told the daily sun.
AL Presidium member Kazi Zafarullah said the trial proceeding is going on against the BNP leaders taking its own course and he denied that Awami League had any influence over the trial process.
“We have nothing to do about this issue,” he added.