Bangladesh Supreme Court stays ex-PM’s bail order

Bangladesh's former prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, leaves after a court appearance in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2018

Bangladesh Supreme Court stays ex-PM’s bail order

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Monday stayed the bail order of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, which was granted to her by the High Court earlier this month until May 8.
A lower court sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment on Feb. 8 for misappropriating funds for the Zia Orphanage Trust.
She appealed to the High Court, which granted her four-month interim bail because of her age and health.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the graft case against her in 2008. On March 15, the ACC and the attorney general’s office filed two leave-to-appeal petitions before the appellate division of the Supreme Court, demanding a stay on the bail order granted by the High Court.
A four-member bench of the appellate division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, stayed the bail order.
As such, Zia will have to stay in jail until May 8, and on the same day the Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the appeal against the bail order.
“It is an undesirable decision given by the highest court of the country. We are very much upset with this unprecedented order,” said her lawyer Joinul Abedin.
“In recent times, the government has influenced the lower court’s decisions. Now it seems the higher court is also not free from government influence.”
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is led by Zia, said the ruling party is hindering the legal process to prolong her imprisonment.
The Supreme Court’s decision “reflects the government’s desire,” he said. “Zia and we have been denied justice by the country’s apex court, which is the last resort of the people.”
Political analyst Dr. Asif Nazrul said the handling of Zia’s bail has raised “strong doubts about whether this is a judicial process or political revenge.”
Nazrul said he believes it is an attempt to marginalize the BNP in the next general election, which is scheduled to take place by the end of the year.
“These things are being done to declare Zia incompetent in the next election,” he said. “I think the government will not allow her to participate. It is trying in every possible way to keep her in jail until then.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last month said the government had nothing to do with Zia’s sentence.
Hasina added that the BNP is free to boycott the next election, as it did the last one. “Elections are a democratic right of the people,” she said. “Here, we have a multi-party democracy.”

NZ leader Ardern vows to deny accused gunman notoriety he seeks

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago

NZ leader Ardern vows to deny accused gunman notoriety he seeks

  • ‘You will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal.’

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed Tuesday never to utter the name of the twin-mosque gunman as she opened a somber session of Parliament with an evocative “as salaam alaikum” message of peace to Muslims.

“He will face the full force of the law in New Zealand,” Ardern promised grieving Kiwis, while promising that she would deprive the man who slaughtered 50 people in Christchurch of the publicity he craved.

“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety,” she told assembled lawmakers of the 28-year-old Australian accused of the slaughter.

“That is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

“I implore you: Speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them.”

Dressed in black, the 38-year-old leader opened her remarks in Parliament with the symbolism of the greeting uttered across the Islamic world.

“Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” she said — ‘May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you too.’

She closed her address by noting that “on Friday, it will be a week since the attack, members of the Muslim community will gather for worship on that day. Let us acknowledge their grief as they do.”

Her comments came as dozens of relatives of the deceased began arriving from around the world ahead of expected funerals which have already been delayed far beyond the 24 hours after death usually observed under Islamic custom.

The slow process of identification and forensic documentation has so far made burials impossible, augmenting families’ grief.

Javed Dadabhai, who traveled from Auckland to help bury his cousin, said families and volunteers were told: “It is going to be a very slow process, a very thorough process.”

“Some families have been invited to have a look at their family members... the ones that are easiest to recognize, but we are talking about three or four.”

“The majority of people still have not had the opportunity to see their family members,” he told AFP.

In the wake of the mass shooting, Ardern has promised to reform New Zealand gun laws that allowed the gunman to legally purchase the weapons he used in the attack on two Christchurch mosques, including semi-automatic rifles.

New Zealanders have already begun answering government appeals to hand in their weapons, including John Hart, a farmer in the North Island district of Masterton.

Hart said it was an easy decision for him to hand in his semi-automatic and tweeted that “on the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse. We don’t need these in our country.”

The tweet drew a barrage of derogatory messages to his Facebook account —  most apparently from the US, where the pro-gun lobby is powerful and vociferous.

Hart deleted the messages but posted online: “A warm kia ora to all my new American Facebook friends.”

“I’m not familiar with your local customs, but I assume ‘Cuck’ is a traditional greeting,” he said of the insult, short for “cuckold” frequently used by far-right pundits.

Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday.