Proceedings against Hasina deferred again
Monday, 23 June 2008

Niko Graft Case

A Dhaka court on Sunday deferred charge framing proceedings in the Niko graft case, filed against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina and others, to June 25.

Judge Amar Kumar Roy, of Special Judge's Court-2, adjourned Sunday's hearing after defence lawyers pointed out that the High Court had sought the documents in the case.

The prosecution protested, saying it would not be right on the part of the special court to defer any hearing without checking the High Court's order.

The High Court on June 19 ordered the special trial court to submit the documents of the case as Hasina had petitioned the higher court to have the case cancelled.

Advocate Sahara Khatun was present in court on Hasina's behalf as the former prime minister has been exempted from personally appearing in court while she seeks medical treatment overseas.

Former energy secretary Toufique-e-Elahi Chowdhury and former state minister for power Rafiqul Islam, also accused in the case, were present in court Sunday.

The Anticorruption Commission filed the case on Dec 9 last year, and pressed charges against the Awami League president and nine others on May 7.

Hasina stands accused of approving a deal with Niko Resources Ltd in 2001, during her term as prime minister, which cost the state Tk 13,630.50 crore in losses.

The case details allege that Canadian firm Niko was "very inefficient" in different aspects of its operations, including technical expertise in oil exploration, but the deal was approved in violation of proper procedure.

Other charged in the case are former principal secretary of the prime minister's office SA Samad, former energy secretary M Akmal Hossain, former chairman of Petro Bangla Md Mosharraf Hossain, Niko Resources Bangladesh Ltd vice president Kashem Sharif, former secretary of external resources division AKM Mashiur Rahman and former director of Petro Bangla Syed Anwarul Haque.

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