Azam says he didn't bring charges against Hasina
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Azam J ChowdhuryAgency

Plaintiff Azam J Chowdhury testified in court Wednesday that he filed extortion charges against Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, not other accused—former prime minister Sheikh Hasina or her sister Sheikh Rehana.

"I know Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim only as the accused in the case. I do not know anyone else," said businessman Azam as he was questioned by a lawyer for the prosecution during his testimony.

As the case proceedings resumed Wednesday morning, Hasina's defence team asked the court why her lawyers were not able to see the detained former prime minister in special despite a court order.

The court ordered prison authorities to submit a report explaining why they had not complied with the court order. Metropolitan sessions judge Md Azizul Haque adjourned the hearing until Feb 4, when the recording of witness testimonies resumes.

Hasina and cousin Sheikh Selim were produced before the judge at 10am. Hasina's Canadian lawyer Payam Akhavan was also present at the special courtroom set up at the Sangsad Bhaban premises.

On Jan 24, the Supreme Court put freezes on the High Court stay order on the proceedings of the Tk 3 crore extortion case.

The High Court had earlier stayed the proceedings of the case until the legitimacy of trying the case under emergency powers rules was settled.

Hasina's lawyers had argued that it was in no way appropriate to try the case under EPR, pointing out that the alleged incidence of extortion was dated before a state of emergency was imposed in the country.

The lawyers added that applying the Emergency Powers Ordinance to an incident that took place a long time back contradicts the ordinance itself.

On Jan 21, the government appealed against the High Court stay order, and the Appellate Division set a new date for proceedings to continue.

The case was filed by Azam Jahangir Chowdhury on June 13, 2007.

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