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Former Bangla President Ershad says no scope for his trial

Bangladesh`s former military dictator H M Ershad, now a crucial ally of the ruling Awami League, has put up a defiant face on the High Court`s verdict that virtually declared him a `usurper`.



Dhaka: Bangladesh`s former military
dictator H M Ershad, now a crucial ally of the ruling Awami
League, has put up a defiant face on the High Court`s verdict
that virtually declared him a `usurper`, saying there was no
scope to put him on trial.

"Those who are asking for my trial, have not read the
High Court verdict properly. They are mentally ill," he was
quoted as saying by BDNews24, a day after he met Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina reportedly to discuss his fate against
the backdrop of the verdict issued earlier this week.

The former military ruler said the verdict had
legalised all the "good initiatives" during his decade long
regime and forgave the rest.

"There is no scope to put me on trial," said Ershad,
whose Jatiya Party is a crucial ally of Awami League.

Prime Minister`s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad
confirmed yesterday that the former president held a "one to
one talk" for half an hour with Hasina.

Ershad`s close aides were quoted by the Daily Star as
saying that Hasina had asked him "not to worry much about his
fate" and that the leader "looked quite happy coming out of
the meeting".

The High Court on August 26 declared "illegal" a 1986
amendment to the country`s constitution that had legitimised
the installation of the then army chief Ershad to power in the
bloodless 1982 coup.

"The Seventh Amendment... is void, illegal and made
without lawful authority," said a two-member bench comprising
judges Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Sheikh Mohammad Zakir
Hossain.

The verdict also said "Ershad cannot avoid liability
as being a usurper" but added that the government would decide
his fate or take decision on his trial for being a "usurper".

The seventh amendment had ratified the proclamation of
martial law and other regulations, orders and instructions by
the former military dictator between March 24, 1982, and
November 10, 1986.

Ershad was ousted in a massive pro-democracy campaign
in 1990 that was jointly spearheaded by Hasina and her
archrival BNP`s Khaleda Zia. His party now contributes 29
lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament.

The High Court order came just a month after the
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court issued the full text
of its February 2 judgement declaring illegal the nearly
identical 5th amendment to the constitution legitimising
martial law proclamation by ex-general turned politician Ziaur
Rahman, also the founder of BNP.

The apex court also suggested "suitable punishment" to
perpetrators of martial laws.

Ershad appeared as the strongman of Bangladesh after
the death of President Ziaur Rahman in an abortive coup in
1981. He subsequently assumed power in a bloodless putsch in
1982 toppling the then elected government of President Abdus
Sattar.

He ruled the country with an iron hand for nearly a
decade as the longest serving head of the state, defying
political protests, until 1990, when the massive mass upsurge
eventually ousted his regime.

Both Ziaur Rahman and Ershad initially assumed power
through military coups and later floated their own parties to
appear as politicians.

Hasina and her archrival Zia spearheaded years of
anti-Ershad campaign, and following his ouster he also spent
nearly six years in prison, facing several graft and criminal
charges.

PTI

From Zee News

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