Hasina should return home 'free'
Thursday, 25 September 2008

Sheikh HasinaHer counsel barrister Rafiqul Huq says

Staff Correspondent

Sheikh Hasina's chief counsel barrister Rafiqul Huq said Wednesday that the former prime minister should "return home as a free person", having secured bail in all cases in which she is standing trial.

Earlier, the High Court set Sept 29 for a ruling on Hasina's petition for bail in the Noor Ali extortion case after it ended hearings on Wednesday.
Rafiqul Huq later said to reporters, "We submitted to the court that Sheikh Hasina is on parole (but) the polls are at hand. She should return home as a free person, hence the bail petition."
Barrister Huq told the vacation bench of justices Sheikh Rezwan Ali and Md Raisuddin at the hearing that Appellate Division and the High Court had granted bail to BNP leaders Tarique Rahman, Sigma Huda, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, Awami League leader Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and many others on medical grounds.
Similarly, he argued, Hasina, the Awami League president, was also entitled to be released on bail on 'health grounds.'
The former prime minister is currently undergoing treatment in the United States.
Additional attorney general Mansur Habib said at the hearing, "They've moved for her bail on 'health grounds' and submitted her medical report for June as a support document. Sheikh Hasina is currently on parole for medical treatment. So, bail is not admissible."
Barrister Huq later told reporters: "I have moved for Hasina's bail in the Noor Ali extortion case. But the government lawyers vehemently opposed our move."
"The law adviser himself advised me in the morning to move for Hasina's bail, but the government lawyers are opposing it. This is contradictory."
"I'm trying to seat the two leaders together to discuss issues," he said.
"If the government continues to oppose Hasina's bail, she will very much have the right to refuse to talk to the BNP chairperson, as Khaleda is on bail and Hasina will still be on parole."
Habib, the additional attorney general, told reporters that Hasina had gone abroad on parole, she could seek bail on her return home and an updated medical report on her health condition would be a requirement then.
"Sheikh Hasina's bail prayer says she needs bail because she's ill; on the other hand, you are saying that the polls dates have been announced and she requires bail in the interest of these national deliberations. The two points seem to contradict each other."
Asked why the state was opposing her bail in the case when bail was granted in the Azam J Chowdhury case, Habib said they had to fight legal battles as their clients told them to and the state was mounting opposition in the case.
On June 13, 2007, Unique Group chairman Noor Ali filed a Tk 5 crore extortion case against Hasina, her cousin Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and his wife Rupa Chowdhury.
On Aug 7 that year, the High Court granted Hasina bail only for the Appellate Division to overturn that order on Aug. 27.
She was arrested on July 16 last year and paroled through an executive order on June 11 this year.

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