Zia`s fugitive son acquitted in money-laundering case
Dhaka: In a relief for ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia`s "fugitive" eldest son, a Bangladeshi court today acquitted him in a money-laundering case amid heightened political tensions in the country ahead of general elections.
"He (Tarique Rahman) has been acquitted of the money-laundering charge," pronounced Judge Mohammad Motahar Hossain of the Special Judge Court-3 of Dhaka at the packed courtroom after trying him in absentia.
The judge said Rahman, 45, was acquitted as he declared the disputed amount of USD 50,000 in his wealth statement earlier.
The court, however, sentenced Rahman`s friend and business partner Giasuddin Al Mamun to seven years in prison and fined him Taka 40 crore on charges of taking bribes and siphoning off the money.
Rahman, the Senior Vice Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was defended by state-appointed counsels under law for fugitives.
The duo was accused of siphoning off Taka 20.41 crore to Singapore between 2003 and 2007 while the BNP-led four-party right-wing alliance was in power. They were charged under the Money Laundering Act and were indicted in August last year after pre-trial hearings.
Despite today`s acquittal, Rahman still faces 15 other graft and criminal cases.
In one of the cases, he is accused of masterminding a grenade attack in 2004 on a Awami League rally killing 24 people. The incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped the attack but was left with permanent hearing impairment.
After today`s verdict, BNP`s Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said this judgment proved Rahman`s was not involved in any corruption, as party activists celebrated the news at the Naya Paltan headquarters.
"...I am saying that the all the corruption allegations and cases brought against our senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman are false and politically motivated," he said.
Chief prosecution lawyer Anisul Haque said the verdict utterly surprised him as "the evidence we provided against the duo were irrefutable".
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