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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 69
May 24 , 2008

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Hasina's trial starts at special court
A special court started trial of the barge-mounted power plant graft case against former premier Sheikh Hasina and seven others with deposition of plaintiff Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Deputy Director SM Sabbir Hasan.

As Hasina's counsels started cross-examining the plaintiff, Judge Firoz Alam of the Special Court-1 set up on the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban premises adjourned the proceedings at 12:25pm and fixed Thursday (today) morning for further proceedings. Earlier, Sabbir submitted his statement and identified Hasina and former power secretary Dr Toufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury as the accused after they were hauled before the court at 10:10am.

Hasina's lawyers advocates Yusuf Hossain Humayun, Shahara Khatun and Kamrul Islam later told newspersons the plaintiff's statement was “false and fabricated” and there were no specific evidence, documents or papers supporting the allegations. -The Daily Star, May 22, 2008.

Nizami behind bars
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami was sent to jail after being produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's (CMM) Court of Dhaka in connection with the Gatco graft case.

Police produced Nizami before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Waliul Islam under tight security, where his lawyers submitted three petitions. The petitions included a bail petition, another for providing him with first class division and the other for granting him proper treatment in jail custody. Meanwhile two murder cases against Nizami, filed for killing freedom fighters and general public during the Liberation War in 1971 with Keraniganj and Pallabi police are currently under investigation. -The Daily Star, May 20, 2008.

Grafts reign supreme in import trade
The system for pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of imports has become riddled with corruption, and plagued by tax dodging and money laundering, depriving the country of huge amounts of revenue, reveals an investigation by The Daily Star.

Behind the large scale corruption is a nexus of some businessmen, politicians, taxmen and PSI staff who have plundered government revenues since the system was made mandatory in 2000. The exact amount the scams have cost the country is difficult to know, but businessmen and revenue experts believe the sum is well in excess of 1,000 crore taka a year. -The Daily Star, May 20, 2008.

Power Plant Graft Charge
A special court framed charges indicting detained former premier Sheikh Hasina and seven others in the Tk 3 crore graft case in connection with setting up 100MW barge-mounted power plant in Khulna. Judge Firoz Alam of the Special Court-1 set up on Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban premises also fixed May 21 for starting deposition of witnesses in the case. -The Daily Star, May 19, 2008.

Stranded Biharis now Bangladesh citizens
The High Court (HC) ruled that about three lakh Biharis living in different parts of the country are citizens of Bangladesh. Responding to a writ petition filed by 11 Urdu-speaking people, an HC bench comprising Justices Mohammad Abdur Rashid and Ashfaqul Islam also directed the Election Commission (EC) to include the petitioners' names in the voter list.

According to a publication of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit of Dhaka University, these Biharis first moved to Pakistan from India in 1947. Then 74,000 of them migrated to the former East Pakistan and the migration continued up to 1952. Around 4.26 lakh Biharis left Bangladesh during and after the Liberation War in 1971 while around 4 lakh opted to stay on. Following an agreement in 1974, Pakistan took back over 1 lakh of them. The number of Biharis repatriated so far stands at 1.61 lakh.
Later, Pakistan stopped accepting applications from those willing to return and terminated the repatriation process. -The Daily Star, May 19, 2008.

Khaleda files petition for quashing Niko graft case
Detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia filed a petition with the High Court (HC) for quashing the proceedings against her in the Niko graft case filed by the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC).

On December 9 last year, the ACC filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station against the BNP chairperson and several others on charge of abusing power in awarding a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko. On May 5, the commission pressed charges against Khaleda Zia and 10 others in the case. Former law minister Moudud Ahmed and former state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain are among the other charge-sheeted accused. Sources said Barrister Nowshad Zamir may move the petition on behalf of Khaleda Zia. -The Daily Star, May 19, 2008.

Gatco Graft Case, Arrest warrants reach police stations
Arrest warrants against the 12 'absconding' accused in the Gatco graft case reached the police stations, said police sources. Officers-in-charge however declined to say anything about the matter.

A Dhaka court issued the warrants against the 12 including former BNP ministers M Saifur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, MK Anwar, M Shamsul Islam and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, and Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami. The other fugitive accused are former shipping secretary Zulfikar Haider Chowdhury, Gatco directors AKM Musa Kajol, Ehsan Yusuf, Shahjahan M Hasib, former member of Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) AK Rashid Uddin Ahmed and former shipping minister and late BNP leader Col (retd) Akbar Hossain's wife Jahanara Ansar. Saifur, who is also the top leader of the pro-reform BNP faction, is in Singapore now for treatment. Amir Khasru left the country immediately after the army-led joint forces launched the crackdown on corruption suspects. -The Daily Star, May 18, 2008

Corresponding with the Law Desk
Please send your mails, queries, and opinions to: Law Desk, The Daily Star 19 Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215; telephone 8124944,8124955,fax 8125155; email: dslawdesk@yahoo.co.uk,lawdesk@thedailystar.net


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