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The Anti-Corruption Commission has pleaded for life term imprisonment for Khaleda Zia in an appeal to the High Court against the verdict sentencing BNP chief to five years in jail for corruption in Zia Orphanage Trust. - A home for your website

The state has appealed for upholding the verdict delivered by a special court in February.

ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan and Attorney General Mahbubey Alam placed the appeals after presenting their arguments in the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman on Tuesday.

Former attorney general AJ Mohammad Ali and other lawyers for Khaleda, however, left the courtroom before the hearing of the arguments started as the court had rejected their plea to adjourn the hearing until an Appellate Division order on their another plea related to the case.

Mohammad Ali filed the other petition seeking additional recording of witness depositions to clear the source of the money embezzled from the trust.

After hearing the petition, the High Court ordered that it be registered and said a ruling on it would be passed after the hearing of the arguments of the ACC and the state on their appeals.

But Mohammad Ali said they would move the Appellate Division to have the order changed.

When the court said the defence lawyers were free to move the Appellate Division, Mohammad Ali sought adjournment of the hearing until the Appellate Division order.

As the High Court rejected his plea, Mohammad Ali, Abdur Rezak Khan, Zainul Abedin and the other lawyers for Khaleda left the courtroom in protest.

“We have sought the maximum punishment which is life term imprisonment, because we think the five-year prison sentence is not appropriate,” ACC lawyer Khurshid told reporters.

Attorney General Alam said they believed the sentencing of the special court was proper and so they have appealed for upholding the verdict.

Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Fifth Special Judges Court of Dhaka delivered the verdict on Feb 8, also sentencing Khaledas son Tarique Rahman, who is acting as BNP chief now, and four others to 10 years in prison.

Akhtaruzzaman observed in the verdict he considered the physical condition, age and social status of Khaleda in deciding about her penalty.

The BNP claims the government had orchestrated the trial of Khaleda to keep her out of the next general elections scheduled to be held by the end of this year.

The graft watchdog started the case nine years ago, in July 2008 during the military-installed caretaker regime, over embezzlement of Tk 21 million in foreign donation meant for the trust when Khaleda was the prime minister.

The Appellate Division has ordered the High Court to dispose of the case within Oct 31.