In a setback to former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia, the Supreme Court today upheld a High Court judgement rejecting her plea for a re-investigation into a graft case against her. With the apex court’s order, all the obstacles have been removed to continue a trial in a lower court against Zia, 71, the chairperson of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which does not have representation in Parliament after boycotting the 2014 general elections. Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha-led four-member bench of the Appellate Division upheld the High Court’s order rejecting the petition filed by the two-time former prime minister, The Daily Star reported. Zia, through her lawyer AJ Mohammad Ali — a former attorney general — had sought the Supreme Court’s order for a re-investigation into a portion of the Zia Orphanage graft case against her, the report said.
Now, there is no legal bar for the lower court to continue the trial proceedings of the graft case against her, Anti-Corruption Commission’s lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said. The orphanage case is under trial at the Dhaka Special Judges Court. In March, the High Court had rejected Zia’s petition seeking its order for a fresh probe into a portion of the Zia Orphanage corruption case against her.
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In the petition, which focused on the source of the money in the orphanage fund, she requested the High Court to stay the trial proceedings of the case and to issue a rule asking the authorities concerned to explain why the lower court’s rejection order should not be declared illegal. Zia claimed that the chargesheet said the money in the trust came from Saudi Arabia, insisting in her plea that it actually came from Kuwait.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case in 2008 accusing Zia, her elder son Tarique Rahman and four others for misappropriating over 2.10 crore taka ($248,154) that was received as grants for orphans of the Zia Orphanage Trust via a foreign bank. In addition, in 2011, the ACC accused the BNP chief and three others of misappropriating 3.15 crore taka ($372,231) from the Zia Charitable Trust Fund.