Khaleda Zia abused her office as prime minister in collecting and spending money through a “personal fund” in the Zia Charitable Trust, a court has ruled.The Fifth Special Judge’s Court made the observation in the verdict sentencing the BNP chief to seven years in prison for corruption of Tk 31.54 million in the trust on Monday.
“The example she set through criminal activities by collecting money illegally for the personal trust while holding the highest government office is never desirable in any way,” Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman noted.
“The accused (Khaleda) must get tough penalty so that no-one can get encouraged to commit such crimes while holding similar positions,” he added.
He also said he believed it was reasonable to hand the same sentence to the three other accused for abetting in the crime directly or indirectly.
The three other convicts are Khaledas former political affairs secretary Harris Chowdhury, his former aide and former BIWTA acting director Ziaul Islam Munna, and former Dhaka mayor Sadeque Hossain Khokas personal secretary Monirul Islam Khan.
In the summary of the over 400-page verdict, he said he took into consideration 15 issues in making the judgment.
The state successfully proved the charges beyond any doubt, according to the verdict.
The judgment said the trusts address used in documents was actually its managing trustee Khaledas residence in the Dhaka Cantonment and no other address of the trust was found.
Besides this, the two other trustees were Khaledas sons Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Coco, which led the judge to call it a personal trust.
“As a personal trust out and out, it was supposed to be run with personal fund, but that was not the case,” the judge said.
Around Tk 61.9 million from the BNPs fund was deposited to the trust and it was done without the partys decision.
The judge also said a piece of land in Kakrail was bought from one Suraiya Begum for the trust but no operation of the trust was conducted on the land.
Moreover, Suraiya was given an additional fund of around Tk 12.5 million for the land.
The accused people gave the woman the extra money by abusing their powers because she was Tariques aunt-in-law, according to the verdict.
Sentencing Khaleda to five years in prison on Feb 8 for corruption in Zia Orphanage Trust, Judge Akhtaruzzaman said she had committed financial crimes at the state level by embezzling government funds meant for orphans.