1974Published on March 6, 2015
On 25th February 2015, the Third Metropolitan Special Judges Court in Dhaka cancelled bail and issued arrest warrants for BNP Chief Khaleda Zia after she failed to appear in court in relation to pending cases of corruption against her.
It should be noted that issuance of warrants of arrest for people who fail to appear in court, especially when answering on a criminal allegation, is a very ordinary court procedure, not unique to Bangladesh.
Mrs. Zia is currently being tried for two corruption cases involving embezzlement of over US$ 675,000. In 2008, under the then non-artisan caretaker government, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against six including Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman for allegation of misappropriation of funds meant for the trust, which reportedly came from a foreign bank. In 2011, the anti-corruption watchdog sued the BNP chief and three others for embezzlement of funds from the Zia Charity Trust.
Begum Zia has been using every opportunity for not appearing in court for these two cases. Before Wednesday, the court extended the previous date of the hearing to February 25 as Khaleda Zia cited she was in morning after the death of her youngest son Arafat Rahman Koko. Even before this date, on January 15, 2015 Khaleda Zia failed to appear in court citing that she was 'blockaded' in her office at Gulshan, when in fact it was she and her party who was been blockading the entire country since January 5, 2015. On that day, the court had strongly warned her against further non-appearance and made it clear that any subsequent failings to result in issusance of warrants. The evasive tactics used by Khaleda Zia and her counsels is demonstrable from the fact that the proceedings of these cases have taken place on 63 court days, Khaleda Zia being present in only 7 of them.
Khaleda Zia appeared last in court in these matters on December 24, 2014. She sued a different tactic of obstruction on that day, intimidation by show of force. Party activists and goons accompanying her motorcade to court that day swooped on Awami League and associated groups' activists, engaged in vandalism and arson, and torched the car of Awami League Member of Parliament from Netrokona, Mr. Chabi Biswas, grievously wounding him in the process. Around 50 people were injured that day as a result of BNP activists' unruly and destructive behavior.