EC goes all out for polls by 2008
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda said the Election Commission (EC) is going all out to hold the national election by 2008 and will complete necessary preparations within the next 18 months. The commission at an inter-ministerial meeting yesterday asked the Economic Relations Division (ERD) to approach the US, UK, Canada and Japan immediately for funds needed to prepare a voter list with photographs and national identity cards (ID). "There's no time to waste. The ERD will write to the four countries tomorrow [today] seeking financial assistance," the CEC told reporters after the meeting at the EC Secretariat conference room. The mega project might cost around Tk 400 crore, he said adding that the task of preparing the voter roll would have to be wrapped up within the 18-month time frame. Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed in his address to the nation said the ninth parliamentary election that was originally planned for January 22 would be held by the end of next year. -The Daily Star, April 16.
Possessing illegal liquors
A Dhaka court placed detained BNP leader and former law minister Moudud Ahmed on a four-day remand in connection with the case filed for smuggling in contraband foreign liquors and possessing those. Moudud, arrested by the army-led joint forces from his Gulshan residence, was sued under Section 25 (B) of the Special Powers Act, 1974 for bringing the foreign liquors, evading government tax. Police produced Moudud, who is also a member of the BNP Standing Committee, before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate MA Salam with a petition for a seven-day remand. If the charges against Moudud are proved, he will have to face a term of minimum seven years and maximum life term imprisonment or death penalty, legal experts said. Law enforcers are now quizzing the influential ex-BNP minister. Moudud is now under the custody of the joint forces, Gulshan police said. The forwarding report that the Investigation Officer (IO) of the case placed before the court said the accused has committed crime as he possessed foreign liquor and beer that he had smuggled into the country evading tax. -Prothom Alo, April 16.
Govt given 3 weeks for the last time
The Supreme Court (SC) granted the government three weeks for the last time to complete the separation process of the judiciary. Granting the time, Chief Justice Mohammad Ruhul Amin said, "....this is (time extension) for the last time." A seven-member full bench of the SC headed by the chief justice also directed the government to inform it about the completion of the process by May 6 and fixed May 7 for the next hearing of the case. Attorney General (AG) Fida M Kamal explained to the court the reason the government was seeking more time. He said a file related to the separation of judiciary is awaiting approval by the chief adviser (CA) and after the CA's approval, the file would be sent to the president for his approval. The AG submitted a prayer requesting four weeks' time extension while it was mentioned in a letter of finance division that the government needed eight weeks' time to complete the process. When the court yesterday asked the AG to explain why the government needed eight weeks for the task, the AG prayed only for four weeks' time. The court then granted three more weeks as final time.- The Daily Star, April 17.
Arafat released after quizzing over graft
Arafat Rahman, younger son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, was released after intelligence officials interrogated him about his and his aides' alleged involvement in fetching a huge amount of money from different sectors by using clout. Intelligence sources said the joint forces arrested Arafat, nicknamed Coco, after they found evidence of his involvement with corruption. Joint forces arrested Arafat and quizzed him since his arrest. He was neither handed over to police nor produced before a court. The sources also said Arafat was grilled about a string of issues including his control over setting up advertisement billboards in the capital through his advertisement firm Advance Ad, his local and foreign bank accounts and investments. Advance Ad allegedly monopolised outdoor advertisement by using political clout and deprived the Dhaka City Corporation of huge amount of revenues. Last month, the office of the firm was raided twice. -The Daily Star, April 17.
Case against Tarique stayed for 6 months
The High Court (HC) stayed for six months the proceedings of Tk 1 crore extortion case against former prime minister Khaleda Zia's son and BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman. The HC bench that passed the order also rejected Tarique's bail prayer and issued a rule on the government asking it to explain within four weeks why the case against Tarique should not be quashed. Advocate TH Khan moved for Tarique while Deputy Attorney General Abdur Rouf moved for the state in the case in which Tarique has been charged for extorting Tk 1 crore from Al-Amin Construction. Owner of the construction firm Amin Ahmed, who got BNP nomination from Noakhali for the stalled January 22 election, filed the case against Tarique with Gulshan Police Station on March 8, a few hours after the joint forces arrested Tarique at his mother's Dhaka Cantonment residence. Legal experts said if the government appeals in the Supreme Court for vacating the HC stay order and obtains it, the case may proceed again. The investigation officer of the extortion case submitted the charge sheet against Tarique and his close aide Mian Nuruddin Apu on March 18. -The Daily Star, April 18.
EC to talk reforms with civil society on April 26
The Election Commission (EC) will hold a dialogue with civil society groups on April 26 seeking opinions on the proposed electoral reforms. "A daylong discussion will be held with civil society groups and personalities. Those who are involved in election-related activities will be invited to the discussion," Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain told reporters at his office. He hoped that a large number of civil society groups and personalities will attend the discussion at the National Economic Council auditorium. After the talks with the civil society groups and personalities, the EC will sit with the editors of different newspapers and senior journalists seeking their opinions on holding a free and fair election, Sakhawat said. The EC, however, could not finalise the schedule for talks with political parties as the government is yet to decide about the withdrawal of restriction on indoor politics. "We will sit with the political parties as soon as the government withdraws the restriction," Sakhawat said. -Prothom Alo, April 18.
Cop jailed for not producing case evidence
A sub-inspector (SI), Zahid Hossain, has been sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment and fined Taka 5,000 as he failed to produce required evidence in a case he filed against some Awami League (AL) leaders. SI Zahid lodged an FIR (first information report) with Rupsha Police Station on January 7 accusing 22 leaders and activists of AL, BCL and Jubo League for damaging cars during a countrywide blockade at Kudir Battala area under Rupsha upazila. On January 15, SI Sadhan Kumar Das of Rupsha Police Station, also the investigation officer (IO) of the case, submitted charge sheet against 19. Judge SM Masudul Huq of Speedy Trial Tribunal (STT) acquitted all the 19 accused as neither SI Zahid nor the IO could produce any evidence and prosecution witness during the trial. According to the judgment, SI Zahid, now attached to Police Super's office, will have to suffer six more months' rigorous imprisonment, in default, of paying the sum. The STT judge also directed the Inspector General of Police and Khulna Police Super to take departmental action against the IO. -The Daily Star, April 18.
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