The verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case, filed against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, her son Tarique Rahman and four others, will be delivered on February 8.
Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of Dhaka’s Fifth Special Judge’s Court on Thursday set the date after both prosecution and the defence completed their arguments with Khaleda in court.
Both sides presented their arguments before the court over 16 days since December 19 last year, while the court held hearings over a total of 236 days in the case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in 2008.
Khaleda Zia is now out on bail in the case. If convicted, the former prime minister may face the maximum sentence - life imprisonment - in the corruption case.
Defence counsel Abdur Rezak Khan hoped the BNP chief would be acquitted from all charges as the prosecution has failed to prove the accusations against her.
However, Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol said they have proved all charges beyond doubt, adding: “We are hopeful that all six accused will get maximum punishment.”
Earlier in the day, Khaleda appeared before the makeshift court set up at the capital’s Bakshibazar area around 11:45am amid tight security and left the court around 3:30pm after the hearings ended.
On Thursday, the court also fixed January 30 to begin arguments in the Zia Charitable Trust graft cases. Khaleda and three others are accused in this case also filed by the ACC in 2011 on charges of abusing power in setting up the trust and misappropriating Tk3.15 crore from its fund.
On December 5 last year, denying the corruption charges in the Zia Orphanage Trust case, Khaleda claimed that she did not commit any offence and give any benefit to anyone by abusing power during her tenure.
“I’m innocent. I’m worthy of getting acquittal of the corruption charges,” she said in her self defence statement before the court.
A total of 32 prosecution witnesses had testified before the court against Khaleda and others during the trial proceedings of the case.
According to case documents, ACC filed the case at Ramna police station on July 3, 2008, against Khaleda, Tarique and four others for embezzling over Tk2.1 crore by forming an eyewash establishment named Zia Orphanage Trust.
After concluding the investigation, ACC submitted a charge sheet in court accusing the six people on August 5, 2009.
The trial, however, started five years later at Dhaka’s Third Special Judge’s Court on March 19, 2014.
Two other accused in the case - former BNP lawmaker Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed - are currently behind bars.
BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique, who is in the UK now, and Mominur Rahman, nephew of late president Ziaur Rahman and former principal secretary to the prime minister Kamal Uddin Siddique, are shown as fugitives in the case documents.