Koko`s jail sentence sparks row in B`desh

Last Updated: Friday, June 24, 2011 - 23:30

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s main opposition BNP
on Friday termed the conviction of the fugitive younger son of
former prime minister Khaleda Zia as a "political revenge" and
decided to take to the streets after a court sentenced Arafat
Rahman Koko to six years imprisonment for taking bribes.

Judge Mohammad Mozammel Hossain of the Special Court
yesterday sentenced Koko to six years imprisonment for
siphoning off over USD 2.66 million as bribes from two foreign
companies.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by Zia
questioned the legality of the money laundering case and his
conviction, saying Koko was not given an opportunity to defend
himself.

The conviction was "to take political revenge," said
BNP’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
"Nobody will accept the verdict, which proves the
judiciary has become a farce," Alamgir said, as the opposition
party called a nationwide protest on Sunday against the
verdict.

The ruling Awami League termed the ruling as a
"cautionary signal for politicians," in the country.

"This is not happy news for us who are in politics and
have our children...but this is the outcome of our failure,"
said Syed Ashraful Islam, the general secretary and local
government minister of the Awami League.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) ruled out any
influence of the government over the ruling, saying it did not
have any link to the case.

According to the chargesheet, Koko was accused of
taking bribes from China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. and
the German telecom giant Siemens` subsidiary in Bangladesh to
facilitate them win government contracts during Khaleda`s
premiership in 2001-2006.

Koko, who has refused to return for trial and living
in Bangkok, was arrested on September 2007 on graft charges
under a massive anti-corruption campaign of the earlier
interim government and was paroled for treatment abroad in
July 2008.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 24, 2011 - 23:30

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