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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Power Plant Case

Staff Correspondent

The authorities at Dhaka central jail have been asked to produce the imprisoned former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in court on January 16 for hearing in the Khulna power plant 'bribery' case lodged against her and seven others.

The court of Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge Azizul Haque issued the order after receiving the charge sheet which was transferred to him on Sunday by the chief metropolitan magistrates' court for holding the trial.

The judge also issued warrants for arrest of the seven others shown absconding in the charge sheet, and Tejgaon police was asked to inform the court by January 16 about execution of the warrants.

The Anti-Corruption Commission on January 10 submitted charge sheet in court indicting Sheikh Hasina, also Awami League president, and seven others for allegedly taking Tk 3 crore in kickbacks from officials of four power companies for installation of a 100 megawatts barge-mounted power plant depriving the lowest bidder.

The seven absconding accused are – former energy secretary Toufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, former Power Development Board chairman Noor Uddin Mahmud Kamal, former chairman of Summit Corporation Mohammad Aziz Khan and its director Mohammad Farid Khan, United Group chairman Hasan Mahmud Raja and its director Abul Kalam Azad and Bangabandhu Memorial Museum curator Syed Siddiqur Rahman.

A total of 56 people have been named as witnesses in the case lodged with the Tejgaon police on September 2, 2007 by the commission. Syed Siddiq was not named in the FIR.

According to the charge sheet, the Power Development Board floated international tender on October 24, 1996 for installation of three barge-mounted plants at Haripur, Shikalbaha and Khulna within 8-10 months. Fifteen firms submitted 25 tenders, of which 18 were primarily selected.

It claimed that Hasina had approved the deal with the connivance of other accused to serve the interest of a quarter. An arrangement to smuggle out money was also made by allowing Wartsila Bangladesh to import oil that caused a huge loss to the state exchequer, the charge sheet said.

Accused Aziz Khan, Farid Khan, Hasan Mahmud and Abul Kalam allegedly paid Tk 3 crore in eight cheques and pay orders to the Bangabandhu Memorial Trust to buy a two-storey building and 19.11 kathas of land at Dhanmondi for the trust.

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