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Verdict of Arafat’s money laundering case today

Staff Correspondent : A Dhaka court is scheduled to pronounce its judgement today in the money laundering case against Arafat Rahman, youngest son of Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s chairperson Khaleda Zia.

Arafat’s lawyers, at a media briefing on Tuesday, said that Arafat might be deprived of justice as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had told the Cabinet meeting on April 11 to expedite the trial against him and his older brother Tarique Rahman, and her party’s joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif on Tuesday had said that Arafat could not elude punishment.

On June 19 the judge of the Special Judge’s Court 3, Mozammel Haque, set the date after completion of arguments by the Anti-Corruption Commission’s lawyers. As Arafat’s trial was held in absentia he was not entitled to engage any lawyer to defend himself in the case. Arafat’s co-accused Ismail Hossain, son of late shipping minister Akbar Hossain, was also tried in absentia.

The court on 31 October, 2010 issued a warrant for Arafat’s arrest after attorney general Mahbubey Alam appealed for the arrest of Arafat, who has apparently been undergoing medical treatment in Bangkok since 19 July, 2008 after his release on parole.

Mahbubey Alam, while moving the petition, told the court that the home affairs ministry had cancelled the parole on 19 August, 2010.

Arafat challenged the cancellation of the parole and the High Court bench of Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah and Justice Quazi Reza-ul Haque, in its verdict delivered on 11 October, 2010 extended Arafat’s parole by 20 days.

However, the Appellate Division on 13 October, 2010 stayed for six weeks the High Court verdict and asked the government to file a regular petition seeking permission to appeal against the verdict.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Arafat’s lawyer Mahbub Uddin Khokon, who is also a BNP lawmaker, accused the prime minister, the attorney general and Hanif of influencing the judiciary through their comments on pending matters.

‘The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the money laundering case against Arafat on 17 March, 2009 on the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also Awami League’s president, and after that her party members also made undue comments on the case,’ said Khokon.

Referring to Hanif, who told reporters on Tuesday that Arafat could not avoid being sentenced, Khokon asked, ‘How can Hanif know about the verdict before its pronouncement?’

‘How can we say that the verdict was not dictated by the Prime Minister’s Office?’ he added.

Mahbub also alleged that attorney general Mahbubey Alam had broken all the rules and norms by going to the lower court where the ACC had engaged its own lawyers to deal with the graft case.

SCBA’s president Khandker Mahbub Hossain said that he could not believe that justice could be obtained from any court during the tenure of the present government.

Thousand of cases against Awami League’s members were being withdrawn for the dubious reason that they were ‘politically motivated cases’ while Arafat’s case was being disposed of expeditiously, Mahbub added.

‘The government will have to answer to the people in the future for fostering injustice by influencing the judiciary,’ he said.

Arafat and Ismail were charged on 12 November, 2009 for siphoning off $28,84,000 and $9,32,000 to Singapore in 2005.

The court has cross-examined 21 out of 23 witnesses in the case.

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