DHAKA, Oct 18: More than 200 people, mostly politicians, have so far been jailed for varying terms on charges of corruption since the military-backed interim government of Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed took over office in January this year.
Official documents show that as many as 219 people — including seven former ministers, 12 former lawmakers and five businessmen — have been convicted by the special courts so far. The courts sentenced them to imprisonment for various terms, fined them Tk192.8 million and ordered confiscation of their wealth of some Tk1.3 billon.
Fourteen of the convicts were jailed for amassing illegal wealth, four for their failure to submit wealth statements sought by the Anti-Corruption Commission, 16 for evading taxes, seven for receiving bribes, 41 for extortion, 20 for cheating, five for possessing illegal arms, 25 for patronising militancy, one for possessing illegal liquor and 90 for setting fire to and vandalising houses of their rivals.
The convicts include six businessmen, two officials of big business houses, three policemen, two engineers and 208 political party leaders and activists. Of the convicted politicians, 198 belong to Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party that ruled the country between 2001 and 2006, eight belong to former prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League that ruled between 1996 and 2001, and one belongs to the Jatiya Party faction led by Anwar Hossain Monju.
Moreover, 115 politicians, including former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, and former ministers and lawmakers, are now in jail and facing a number of cases filed after January 11 this year. About a hundred more, including some of the convicts, are still in hiding.
The anti-corruption commission has so far ordered 142 high-profile corruption suspects to submit their wealth statements. It has filed 33 cases for amassing illegal wealth. The courts have so far given verdicts in eight of such cases and in four cases for not filing the wealth statements.
The special judge’s courts set up on the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) premises to try high-profile corruption suspects, delivered verdicts in eight cases, filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission charging them for amassing illegal wealth and hiding information in wealth statements.
In the verdicts, the courts jailed eight people — former Awami League cabinet’s minister Mohammad Nasim, former AL state minister Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir, former BNP state ministers Amanullah Aman and Mir Nasiruddin, former BNP lawmakers Manjurul Ahsan Munshi and Ali Asgar Lobi, Awami Swechchhasebak League General Secretary Pankaj Devnath and telephone board CBA leader Firoz Miah — for 13 years and ordered confiscation of their wealth of Tk790.3 million for amassing wealth beyond their known sources of income and hiding information. Firoz Miah is also involved with the BNP.
The courts also jailed five others — Nasim’s wife Laila Arzumand Banu, Aman’s wife Sabera Aman, Nasir’s son Mir Helaluddin and Pankaj’s wife Monika Devnath — for three years for abetting them in crimes. The convicts were also fined Tk18 million.
Another court in Chittagong jailed former BNP lawmaker Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan for 20 years, fined him Tk10,000 and ordered confiscation of his wealth of Tk63.6 million.
The special anti-graft courts of Dhaka also jailed former BNP minister Nazmul Huda for seven years, his wife Sigma Huda for three years, and three police officers of the Fatullah police station for seven years for bribery, and ordered confiscation of Tk24 million and Tk1.48 million from Huda and three policemen, respectively.
The special courts also jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Harris Chowdhury, former AL lawmakers Joynal Hazari and Shamim Osman and businessman Giasuddin Al Mamun, also a close aide of Khaleda’s eldest son
Tarique Rahman, for three years for not submitting their wealth statements defying the commission notification.
A Rajshahi court jailed former BNP minister Aminul Huq, Rajshahi city BNP leader Shish Mohammad and 23 others for 31 years on charge of patronising militancy.
A Natore court jailed former deputy minister M. Ruhul Kuddus Talukdar Dulu, his elder brother Nurunnabi Talukdar and cousin Atikur Rahman Talukdar for 8 years, and 87 leaders and activists of the BNP Natore district unit, including 16 relatives of Dulu, for 7 years for looting and vandalising 30 houses and 18 shops at Ramsa Kazipur and Amtali Bazaar in Natore.
Of the 41 convicts on extortion charges, former Rajshahi mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu and 10 others were jailed for 13 years, former BNP lawmaker Nadim Mostafa and 16 others for 10 years, former BNP lawmaker for a Barguna constituency Matiur Rahman for 17 years, former BNP lawmaker for a Chapainawabganj constituency Shahjahan Miah and two other local BNP leaders for five years, his wife Ashifa Ashrafi Papiya for five years, former BNP lawmaker Naser Rahman, son of former finance minister Saifur Rahman, for 9 years, (in the same case) two engineers and a local BNP leader for five years, Dhaka city ward commissioner and city BNP leader Chowdhury Alam for 10 years each in two cases, his wife Hasina Chowdhury for 10 years, former Khagrachari municipality chairman and BNP leader Belayet Bhuiyan for five years and Kamalganj municipality chairman of Moulvibazar, Hasin Afroze Chaudhury, for five years. They were also fined Tk426,000 in all.
The 16 convicted on charge of tax evasion include former minister Shahjahan Siraj, his wife Rabeya Siraj, son Rajib Siraj and daughter-in-law Farzana Khan, Ali Asgar Lobi, former lawmaker Mosaddak Ali Falu’s wife Mahbuba Sultana, former housing minister Mirza Abbas’s wife Afroza Abbas, his brother Mirza Khokon and former state minister and AL joint secretary Obaidul Kader’s wife Isratunnisa and revenue board official A. T. M. Sarwar Hossain. The court ordered confiscation of their wealth of about Tk280 million in all and some landed property and fined them about Tk60.3 million in all.
The Bashundhara Group chairman, Ahmed Akbar Sobhan Shah Alam, his wife Afroza Begum and three sons Saadat Sobhan, Shafayet Sobhan and Sayem Sobhan have also been jailed for eight years for tax evasion.
The owner of a chartered accounting firm, S. M. Quddus, was also jailed for three years for abetting the Bashundhara Group in the offence. The court also ordered confiscation of about Tk 220.5 million and fined the group Tk 80.3 million.
Jatiya Party faction chairman Anwar Hossain Manju was jailed for five years in a case filed under the Narcotics Control Act.
Of the 20 convicted of cheating include former BNP lawmaker Nadim Mostafa and 16 others were jailed for five years, BNP lawmaker Matiur Rahman for 17 years, Dupchanchia municipality chairman in Bogra, Jahangir Alam, for two years, and Rangamati JSS leader Zahir Ahmed for 17 years.
Dhaka city ward commissioner and BNP leader Monawar Hossain Dipjol, also an actor, was jailed for 17 years and his wife Romana Monawar for seven years, former BNP lawmaker from a Barisal constituency Abul Hossain Khan for seven years, former BNP lawmaker for a Patuakhali constituency Shahidul Alam Talukder for 10 years and businessman Gaisuddin Al Mamun for 10 years for possessing illegal arms.
Former state minister for power Anwarul Kabir Talukder was fined Tk 4 million by the Chittagong customs authority in the tax-free vehicle case. He has, however, not been jailed.