A Dhaka court has exempted BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from making further appearances in the Niko graft case proceedings, and allowed her lawyers Masud Ahmed Talukder and Syed Zainul Abedin Mesbah to be present on her behalf.
Following a petition submitted by lawyer Talukder in this regard, Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of Dhaka 9th special judge court passed the order on Tuesday at the newly built courtroom in front of Keraniganj Central Jail.
The court had previously fixed Tuesday for holding a hearing on charge framing in this case. Counsels for prime accused Khaleda Zia took part in the hearing, but failed to conclude. At the end of the proceedings, the defence pleaded for time.
Granting the plea, the court adjourned the hearing till 18 March, Zia Uddin – another of Khaleda Zia's lawyers – told reporters.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case against five including Begum Khaleda Zia with Tejgaon police station on 9 December 2007 for abusing power in signing a deal with Canadian company Niko for exploring and extracting gas.
The ACC, on 5 May 2008, submitted the chargesheet against 11 people including Khaleda Zia. The commission accused them of incurring a loss of more than Tk13,000 crore of state exchequer through that deal.
Some of the other accused in the case are – Barrister Moudud Ahmed, AKM Mosharraf Hossain, Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, Khandaker Shahidul Islam, CM Eusuf Hossain, Mir Moinul Haque, Md Shafiur Rahman, Gias Uddin Al Mamun, MAH Selim and Kashem Sharif.