Dhaka court has handed down a nine-year prison sentence to BNP Acting Chairperson Tarique Rahman and a three-year jail term to his wife, Zubaida Rahman, in a corruption case today. The verdict was announced by Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge Md Asaduzzaman, as confirmed by Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossen Kajol.
The corruption case, filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in 2007, accused the couple of misappropriating Tk4.8 crore. Initially, Tarique Rahman’s mother-in-law, Iqbal Mand Banu, was also involved in the case, but her name was dropped after her demise.
The proceedings saw separate writ petitions from Tarique and Zubaida contesting the charges. In 2008, the ACC filed a charge sheet related to the case. The court officially accepted the charges against Tarique and Zubaida on November 1, 2022. Subsequently, on April 13, of the same year, the court formally charged both of them and initiated the trial in the case.
Prior to the verdict, additional police forces were deployed on the court premises, as stated by Deputy Commissioner (Prosecution) Anisur Rahman. On July 27, the prosecution completed their arguments and sought the highest punishment for Tarique and Zubaida. The court had earlier recorded statements from 42 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant in the case.
Brief of the Case
Tarique Rahman faced accusations of amassing approximately Tk 27.45 million through undisclosed means, while Zubaida Rahman was alleged to have aided by providing unsupported documents and statements in an attempt to demonstrate that Tarique Rahman had earned Tk 3.5 million from legitimate sources.
On April 13 of the current year, the identical court directed the commencement of the trial against them by formulating charges under Sections 26(2)/27(1) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2004, and Section 109 of the Penal Code. Section 26(2) entails a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, while Section 27(1) prescribes a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment.
Cases against Tarique
Tarique is facing accusations in 15 other cases, most of which were filed during the caretaker government rule in 2007 and 2008. On the other hand, Zubaida has been indicted only in this particular case.
Last year, on November 1, the court issued arrest warrants against the duo after accepting the charges brought against them. Furthermore, on June 26 of the same year, the High Court declared Tarique and Zubaida as “fugitives” and rejected their writ petitions contesting the filing of the graft case. The HC also withdrew the stay order on the case.
This recent verdict adds to Tarique Rahman’s previous legal troubles. In 2013, he was initially acquitted in a money laundering case but later sentenced to seven years in prison after the state’s appeal was successful. In February 2018, he was given a ten-year jail term in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case, which also led to a five-year sentence for his mother, Khaleda Zia.
Furthermore, on October 21, 2018, Tarique was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special tribunal for his involvement in the orchestrating a heinous grenade attack on a rally led by then-opposition leader Sheikh Hasina on August 21, 2004. This led to multiple life sentences and 20 years of imprisonment under various sections of the two murder cases and the Explosives Act.
In another case, on February 4, 2021, Tarique was sentenced to two years in prison in a defamation case filed in Narail for making derogatory remarks about the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was also fined Tk10,000 and faced an additional six months in prison if he failed to pay the fine.
Apart from the recent verdict, Tarique still faces several other pending cases. These cases involve incidents from the 2001-06 period, during his mother’s third term in office as Prime Minister. In 2007, he was arrested during a crackdown on corruption by the military-backed caretaker government. After securing bail from the High Court in 2008, Tarique left for the UK, where he has been managing the party from overseas.
As the legal proceedings continue, the future remains uncertain for Tarique Rahman and Zubaida Rahman in light of their multiple legal entanglements.