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Thursday, 28 February 2008

MiG-29 case

Staff Correspondent

The commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police on Tuesday submitted an application to the court for shifting the trial of the MiG-29 corruption case against detained former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the Special Judges' Court in the Jatiya Sangsad Complex on security grounds.

The first hearing of the case is scheduled to be held in the Dhaka divisional special judge's court in the old part of the city. In his application, DMP commissioner Naim Ahmed said, 'As Sheikh Hasina is a former prime minister and president of one of the largest political parties that has a strong support base, people will obviously crowd around her, which may endanger her life, if she is taken to the court in the old part of the city.' 'It may also hamper smooth functioning of the court,' the DMP chief added.

The case should be transferred to the special court in the Sangsad Bhaban Complex for the public interest and for her safety, Naim added.

The same application was sent to the secretary to the home affairs ministry, said court sources, adding that the applications would be submitted to the trial court. The Dhaka Division Special Judge Golam Murtoza Majumder on February 17 asked the jail authority to produce Hasina in his court during hearing of the MiG-29 case.

The Bureau of Anti-Corruption lodged the case with the Tejgaon police on December 11, 2001, alleging that the seven accused caused the state to incur a loss of Tk 700 crore by buying eight MiG-29 fighters. The charge-sheet of the case was filed with the court on January 29, 2003.

The High Court, however, stayed the case proceedings after receiving appeals from the seven accused. The High Court on September 6, 2007 cleared the way for the trial of six accused persons, omitting Mustafizur Rahman. The same court on January 6, 2008 also cleared the way for the trial of Mostafizur.

After the High Court's orders, the prosecution appealed to the court to fix the date for the hearing of the framing of the charges. The counsels for Sheikh Hasina sought more time for the hearing on grounds of her illness. Hasina was arrested on July 16, 2007 for extortion, and she is now detained in a sub-jail in the premises of the parliament.

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