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Observes HC as it releases verdict copy in Zia orphanage graft case. The High Court (HC) yesterday released its full verdict that doubled BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s five-year jail term in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. In its judgment, the HC observed that corruption threatened the very foundation of democracy, social justice and the rule of law. On October 30 last year, the HC had increased Khaleda is jail term to 10 years from five years as had been handed down by a lower court in the graft case. - A home for your website

The HC authorities released the full text of the judgment after the judges signed it. “The facts unveiled lead to the conclusion that Begum Zia knowingly and in violation of the obligation allowed the fund to be dealt with dishonestly by the trust, leading to its misappropriation,” according to the verdict.

“It is not believable that without the knowledge and endorsement of Begum Zia the fund was so transferred to the accounts of the other convicted persons. For, Begum Zia can in no way be exonerated of the liability and obligation of such dishonest intention. Besides, Begum Zia was the key person who deliberately failed and on whose endorsement the funds were eventually misappropriated,” the verdict copy said.

“Today, corruption, which also includes financial crimes in our country, not only poses a grave danger to the concept of good governance, it also threatens the very foundation of democracy, social justice and the rule of law,” it added. “It is beyond controversy that where corruption begins, all rights end. Corruption devalues human rights, chokes development and undermines justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, which are the core values of our Constitution. Thus, the duty of the court is to work in such a manner so as to strengthen the fight against corruption,” it stated.

“Therefore, there is no scope to take a lenient view in awarding punishment to an accused against whom the charge has been proved by considering his/her social and/or political position,” it said.

On February 8 last year, Khaleda, a former prime minister, landed in jail after a special court in Dhaka convicted her and sentenced her to five years imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. After hearing appeals, the HC had on October 30 last year extended Khaleda’s jail term to 10 years from five years.

The HC also upheld the lower court’s judgment that convicted and sentenced the other accused in the case to 10 years in prison.

The special court also sentenced Khaleda’s eldest son, BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, and four others to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of Tk. 2.10 crore on each of them. Tarique, who lives in the UK, was tried in absentia.

The other convicts are Kazi Salimul Haque, an ex-BNP lawmaker from Magura, Sharfuddin Ahmed, a businessman, Mominur Rahman, a cousin of Tarique, and Kamal Uddin Siddique, a former principal secretary. Among them, Mominur and Kamal are on the run, while Salimul and Sharfuddin were sent to jail on February 8. The sentence of the fugitives will be effective from the day of their arrest or surrender.

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