Corrupts must be brought under trial: PM

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Desk report, Feb 14: Stating that the government didn’t withdraw any case against her, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said those who will commit corruption and terrorism and get involved in militancy must be tried to ensure the country’s peace and development.

“We want to bring a peaceful environment. We want to develop the country and change the lot of the people. It will be possible, when we could control and remove corruption, militancy and nepotism,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, said this while addressing a mass reception accorded to her by Italy chapter of her party at Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel and Spa here last night.

Regarding the corruption cases filed against her in the past, the premier mentioned that she had earlier called for conducting investigation into every case and submit its report.

“I had said that investigation will have to be conducted and report of every case must be submitted…we want to see what the merit of the case was?” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the investigation of every case was carried out and its report was submitted. “I didn’t withdraw any case and I didn’t allow it … why will I do it. I knew that I didn’t commit any graft,” she said.

In this connection, she pointed out the allegation of the World Bank regarding the construction of the Padma Bridge.

Sheikh Hasina said Hilary Clinton was the US Secretary of State at that time and Dr Muhhammad Yunus was desperate to put a bad name on her regarding the Padma Bridge project.

“The US State Department threatened my son thrice in this regard,” she said.

She said then it was proved in the Canadian court that no corruption took place in the Padma Bridge project. “I had said I didn’t come to power to commit corruption…I have come to power for changing the fate of the people not ours,” she said.

Mentioning that the country’s judiciary is fully independent, the prime minister said the corruption of Khaleda Zia was proved in the court, reports agency.

“When the court saw that the orphans’ money was completely embezzled by the BNP leader then the court tried her and gave the verdict,” she said.

“What is the justification for rebuking me and waging a movement against the government in this regard?” she said.

Local leaders of Awami League and its associate bodies spoke at the reception chaired by Italy Chapter Awami League President Hazi Mohammad Idris.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali were present on the dais, among others.

The prime minister said the last caretaker government assumed office and declared emergency due to misdeeds of the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.

“The BNP unleashed terrorism and militancy, committed corruption and created Bangla Bhai and in such a situation, we saw the emergency,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the case in which Khaleda Zia awarded the punishment was filed by her favourite personalities General Moin U Ahmed, Fakhruddin Ahmed and Iajuddin Ahmed.

“Not Awami League, they (the trio) had lodged the case against Khaleda Zia for her corruption,” she said.

The premier said the case was filed in 2007 and its activities started the following year. The case continued for 10 years and the date for hearing was fixed for 236 days. But Khaleda Zia appeared before the court for only 40 days, she said.

The Awami League president said the court was changed thrice for the BNP leader’s objection and she filed writs for 22/24 times.

“When the court punished Khaleda Zia despite her (ill) attempts to delay the trial, then BNP is arguing that what was the necessity to punish her for such a small amount of money,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the money that embezzled Khaleda Zia and others was brought for the orphanage. “But the money went to their personal fund instead of the orphans,” she said.

The premier said the BNP leaders are saying that money was increased to over Taka three crore from two crore. “But what the benefit the orphans got from it,” she said.

“If Khaleda Zia said yes I have kept the money for my two sons, then there was a justification,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said when the case was filed, (Barrister) Rafiqul Haque had said at that time that the case will be withdrawn if Khlaeda Zia pays the money. “But she (Khaleda Zia) didn’t leave the love for the money,” she said.

The prime minister said there was much more value of Tk two crore as four flats could be purchased at that time and it was the reality.

“But Khaleda Zia didn’t leave the love for that money and now she is caught for possessing the money of the orphans,” she said.