Vol. 5 Num 1118 Mon. July 23, 2007  
Front Page

Hasina asks all not to allow 'injustice'
AL ready for all-out legal battle

Detained Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked people to be united against 'injustice' and hoped that she will be freed if due and transparent processes of law are followed in conducting her trial.

The AL is gearing up to launch an all-out legal battle against the government for Hasina's release. The plan even includes hiring of high profile lawyers from Europe and the US.

Hasina also expressed her doubt that due process of law will not be followed in her case as the caretaker government is determined to punish her by any means to keep her out of the next election, her legal counsel Advocate Shahara Khatun said.

Shahara and barrister Fazle Noor Taposh met the AL chief at the sub-jail yesterday to discuss legal aspects of the case filed against her.

"People must not lose their morale. All will have to be united. Be calm and patient and face the situation. Do not allow any injustice, resist it," Shahara quoted Hasina as calling on the people.

A 101-member legal aide committee and an 11-member steering committee will be formed soon to start the legal battle on the extortion case filed against Hasina, according to AL leaders and lawyers.

A few hundred pro-AL lawyers yesterday held an informal meeting at the North Hall of the Supreme Court Bar to analyse different aspects of the case.

Hasina's son Sajeeb Wajed Joy is also planning to sign a contract with a US-based law firm to fight for his mother's release.

The AL also intends to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures of people from across the country for a memorandum demanding Hasina's release after observing the situation for a few days. The memorandum will be submitted to the chief adviser.

It will simultaneously work to build international pressure on the caretaker government for Hasina's release, AL sources told The Daily Star.

The party, however, has no plan for any movement at present as it fears that forging a movement will violate the state of emergency rules and will not be able to bring out enough people to the streets.

Talking to The Daily Star, a mid-level AL leader said, "We are going through a very hard time and we will have to wait, be calm and patient to get justice."

AL Acting President Zillur Rahman said, "First, we want to move legally to release Sheikh Hasina and see its outcome, then we will think about alternatives like movements." He, however, said he supports any kind of movement to release Hasina.

During their meeting with Hasina, AL Law Secretary Shahara informed the AL chief of the latest developments of different charges brought against her.

Shahara termed the charges against Hasina "completely false and fabricated". The charges will not stand if the trial is conducted in a transparent process.

Barrister Fazle Noor said Hasina is physically well and mentally strong. She urged people to pray for her, Fazle Noor said.

He demanded Hasina's case be conducted in an open court in a transparent way.

At yesterday's meeting over 200 pro-AL lawyers strongly criticised Law and Information Adviser Mainul Hosein for his remark on Hasina's arrest.

Demanding immediate resignation of the law adviser, they warned the government against interfering in the independence of the judiciary using the emergency ordinance or any other means.

They said the government or the army is not their opponent. If the government intervenes in the work of the highest judiciary, it might backfire, they observed.

Following Hasina's arrest, Adviser Mainul had said the extortion case against her was brought under the Emergency Power Rules 2007 and she was arrested with a view to framing the charge sheet as soon as possible.

Hasina's lawyer Abdul Matin Khasru, however, told The Daily Star after the meeting that the case by no means comes under the emergency ordinance. "We urge the government so that rule of law and the judiciary are not misused," he said.

"We hope good sense will prevail upon the government and it will release Sheikh Hasina without delay," he added.

Khasru said they will sit after two or three days to discuss the legal aspects of the case against the AL chief.

While talking to journalists at his Gulshan residence, Zillur Rahman termed the cases against Hasina "politically motivated" and demanded her immediate release.

Rejecting the possibility of forging any movement jointly with the BNP, he said, "At present, we are not thinking of any movement. I think we can free our leader through legal process."

Referring to the arrest and harassment of a number of party leaders and workers across the country in the last couple of days, Zillur urged the government to stop such arrests and harassment.

On the launching of a new political party by Ferdous Ahmed Qureshi, he said it is surprising how a new party can be floated at a time when there is a ban on indoor politics.

Zillur requested the government to allow Hasina's relatives to meet her at the sub-jail as per jail code.

He congratulated India's newly elected first female president Pratibha Patil and hoped that the bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries will flourish.