Hearing of graft case against Khaleda Zia deferred to Feb 26
A Dhaka court has fixed February 26 to hold a hearing on charge framing in the Niko graft case against
Dhaka: A Dhaka court has fixed February 26 to hold a hearing on charge framing in the Niko graft case against
chief of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia.
The Anti Corruption Commission of Bangladesh (ACC) accused Khaleda and her associates of causing a loss of more than Tk13,000 crore to the state exchequer with the deal inked with the Canadian company Niko for exploring and extracting gas.
The ACC had filed the case on December 9, 2007 against five including the BNP supremo for abusing power for signing the deal.
On May 5, 2008, it pressed charges against Khaleda and 10 others.
On Sunday, Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman passed the order in a temporary courtroom of the Dhaka Special Judge’s Court-9 at Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj.
Appearing on behalf of Khaleda Zia, lawyer AJ Mohammad Ali sought exemption from filing charges against her.
As the hearing did not end on Sunday, the court re-fixed the date.
Mahbub Sarwar, director (production sharing contracts) of Petrobangla, told The Independent: “We have heard the order of the High court but have not received any document yet. After receiving the court order, we will know what to do with the Niko deal. But we are ready to comply with the court order.”
“We welcome the order and we will it do in the interest of the country,” Nawsadul Islam, managing editor of Bapex, told The Independent.
In his reply to a query, he said: “Niko has some share in Block No. 9 that included Bangura gas field. However, we don’t know whether the court has released any order on Block No. 9.”
For the past few years, the government has been trying scrap the deal with Niko, which pulled out of Bangladesh in 2005 after two blowouts at the Tengratila gas field, causing damage to at least 1,794 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas worth some Tk. 13,631 crore.
Recently, the local administration has expressed concern over an unusual leakage of gas at the abandoned Tengratila gas field in Sunamganj.
In a letter to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Sunamganj’s deputy commissioner (DC) reported that gas was flowing out through different leaks of the abandoned gas field.
He also said the chairmen of local upazila and union parishads have expressed concern over any possible danger caused by the unprecedented gas flow (condensate).
A compensation case is pending with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) over the blowout incident.