Khaleda Zia’s appeal to scrap indictment rejected

Updated 23 April 2014

Khaleda Zia’s appeal to scrap indictment rejected

DHAKA: A top Bangladesh court ruled Wednesday opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s trial over embezzlement charges should go ahead in a case that could see her jailed for life, a prosecutor said.
The High Court rejected the former two-time premier’s bid to quash the trial which had been scheduled to start in a lower court this week after she was indicted on charges of embezzling more than $650,000.
“Both her appeals have been rejected. There is no bar to continue her trial in the two cases,” deputy attorney general Mohammad Selim told AFP.
Zia’s lawyers have called the charges politically motivated, aimed at destroying her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has vowed to topple the government of arch rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Zia was indicted just weeks after Hasina was re-elected in a Jan. 5 general election which the center-right BNP and its 18 opposition allies boycotted and denounced as a farce.
Police detained thousands of opposition officials and supporters and charged many more during and after the election, which was the bloodiest in the country’s short history.
Zia’s lawyer Sanaullah Miah said he would now lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court, in a final attempt to stop the trial from going ahead in a special anti-corruption court in Dhaka.
“It is now clear that the government wants to put Zia in jail. That’s why we are not getting any justice in any court,” he told AFP.
The trial had been scheduled to start on Monday but was adjourned until after the two-judge bench of the High Court had ruled on the appeal.
Selim said the prosecution has “strong cases” against Zia and there was little chance of the defense succeeding in getting the trial halted.


Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago

Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

LONDON: The daughter and grandson of a former Kazakhstan president won a British court ruling Wednesday over plans to seize three multimillion-pound London properties from the family.
The UK’s National Crime Agency had obtained unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) against the luxury properties, said to be worth a total of around £80 million ($96 million), last May.
UWOs, brought into force in January 2018 under so-called “McMafia laws” — named after a BBC organized crime drama — allows the NCA to seize assets if they believe the owner is a “politically exposed person” and unable to explain the source of their wealth.
The NCA said the properties’ purchases were funded by Rakhat Aliyev, a former senior member of the Kazakh government who died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial on two charges of murder.
However, in a High Court judgment, given remotely, judge Beverley Lang overturned all three UWOs, ruling that “the NCA’s assumption” that Aliyev was the source of the funds to purchase the three properties was “unreliable.”
The ultimate beneficial owners of the three properties — Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the current chairwoman of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev — had applied to the High Court to discharge the UWOs.
The judge added that there was “cogent evidence” that Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them.
Following the ruling, Nurali Aliyev said the NCA had carried out a “flawed investigation.”
“The NCA deliberately ignored the relevant information I voluntarily provided and pursued a groundless and vicious legal action, including making shocking slurs against me, my family and my country,” he said in a statement.
“Today we have been vindicated.”
The properties were located across London, including one on a wealthy street known as “Billionaires’ Row” and another which campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31 million.
A Nazarbayeva representative said the court decision left her “entirely vindicated” and showed she had “not been involved in any wrongdoing.”
“Dr. Nazarbayeva is also deeply disappointed that the NCA thought it appropriate to use the cloak of these court proceedings to make damaging attacks on her reputation and her country, unfairly insulting Dr. Nazarbayeva and her 18 million compatriots.”