A Dhaka court on Tuesday set March 2 for the charge framing hearing in Niko graft case against former Prime Minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and others.
Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of Dhaka 9th Special Judge’s Court passed the order at the newly-built courtroom in front of Keraniganj Central Jail.
Tuesday (February 16) was earlier set for holding the indictment hearing, but prime accused Khaleda Zia refrained from appearing before the court on health grounds, making her counsel file a time plea again.
Accepting the plea, the court adjourned the hearing till March 2.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case against five people, including Khaleda Zia, with Tejgaon police station on December 9, 2007, over the abuse of power in signing a deal with Canadian company Niko for gas exploration and extraction.
The ACC on May 5, 2008, submitted the charge sheet against 11 people including Khaleda Zia. The ACC accused them of causing the state exchequer to incur losses higher than Tk 13,000 crore through the Niko deal.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is currently facing 34 cases filed with different courts and police stations across the country.
Earlier on March 25, 2020, the government released the BNP chairperson, suspending her sentence for six months on humanitarian grounds considering her age as she was serving prison sentences in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case and the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
On September 15 last year, Khaleda Zia’s conditional release from jail in two corruption cases was extended by another six months.
The Home Ministry issued a gazette notification in this regard on the same day.
As per the conditions, Khaleda Zia will not be allowed to go abroad for treatment as she will have to stay home and receive treatment there. She was released earlier on the same conditions.
Earlier on February 8, BNP senior leaders apologised to their party chairperson Khaleda Zia for their failure to wage a strong movement or take any step for her release from jail over the last three years. However, they vowed to take to the streets soon by organising their party rank and file to have Khaleda freed from jail.