SC paves MiG-29 case

Tasneem Khalil

Tasneem Khalil

[Dhaka Correspondent] The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court Sunday refused to extend the time period of the status quo over the proceedings of the MiG-29 corruption case against detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Seven-member full court of the Appellate Division, headed by chief justice M Ruhul Amin, gave the ruling paving the way for the trial court to resume the long-pending proceedings of the case, deputy attorney general Abdur Rauf Miah told newsmen.

Hasina’s counsel Shafique Ahmed, however, told reporters, “We will file a petition before the Appellate Division seeking stay of the proceedings if the trial court restarts it.” They will also file a regular petition with the Appellate Division seeking permission to appeal against the High Court verdict, he said.

Earlier, on September 10, the Appellate Division ordered maintaining status quo till September 30 over a High Court verdict that rejected Hasina’s petition for quashing the MiG-29 graft case against her. Hasina’s counsels filed a petition Sunday seeking extension of the time period of the status quo.

Moving the petition, Shafique told the court that Hasina would file a regular petition seeking permission to appeal against the High Court verdict and the status quo should be maintained till hearing of the petition. The petition will be filed immediately after the certified copy of the verdict is available, he said.

“What is status quo in a criminal case? It appears to be quite a new thing,” the court observed.

Shafique replied, “We sought stay of the High Court order and the chamber judge ordered the authorities to maintain status quo over the matter.”

“No order will be passed extending the time period of the status quo,” said the court.

The High Court bench of Justice Nazrul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Ataur Rahman Khan on September 6 delivered the verdict rejecting the petitions filed by Hasina and five other co-accused for quashing the MiG-29 graft case. The verdict paved the way for the trial court to go ahead with the proceedings of the case, which has remained suspended since March 12, 2003, when the High Court stayed the proceeding upon Hasina’s plea for quashing the case.

Hasina, now detained and facing a series of cases, was the prime minister when eight Russian MiG-29 fighter planes were procured for the Bangladesh Air Force on February 9, 1999.

Abdullah Al Zahid, deputy director of the defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption, filed the case with the Tejgaon police on December 11, 2001 against Hasina and six others, accusing them of corrupt practices in purchasing the war-planes, which, the case mentioned, caused the state exchequer a loss of Taka 720 crore.

Charges were pressed against Hasina, former army chief Mostafizur Rahman, former air force chief Jamaluddin Ahmed, former defence secretary Syed Yousuf Hossain, former air force officer Mirza Akhter Maruf, former joint secretary to the defence ministry, Mohammad Hossain Serniabat and businessman Noor Ali on January 29, 2003.