Conviction panic is haunting BNP leaders and activists who are facing ‘political’ cases amid their preparations for the next national election.
About 18.5 lakh BNP men have been accused in around 78,000 political cases across the country during the present Awami League-led government, party sources said.The BNP high command has plunged into tension as many senior leaders may be disqualified from participating in the election due to their conviction.
Court sources said hundreds of leaders are awaiting verdict as trial proceedings of many cases have almost been completed.
Over a dozen BNP leaders, including party chairperson Khaleda Zia and senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, have already been convicted in various cases.
BNP activists are worried as the convicted and under-trial leaders are possible candidates for the election likely to be held in December.
They are now in a sink-and-swim situation over the conviction of their party chief, party insiders said.
Conviction panic has spread among BNP men after Khaleda and Tarique were convicted in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on Thursday.According to the law, if someone is sentenced to at least two years’ imprisonment, s/he cannot take part in any election for the next five years.
The trial proceedings of the Zia Charitable Trust graft case against Khaleda, Harris Chowdhury and two others are nearing completion.
The court will fix a date for delivering verdict after the end of the argument in the case.
Besides, trial in two cases filed over the deadly grenade attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004 is also almost completed.
BNP leaders Lutfozzaman Babar, Abdus Salam Pintu, Harris Chowdhury and Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad are among those who are accused in the cases.
MA Qaiyum, a senior leader of Dhaka city-unit BNP, may be convicted in a case filed over the shooting of Italian citizen Cesare Tavella in Dhaka in 2015. The court will deliver verdict soon.
Recently, the High Court upheld three-year jail sentence of former lawmaker Hafiz Ibrahim for concealing information about his wealth.
On October 13, 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced former mayor and BNP vice-chairman Sadeque Hossain Khoka to 13 years in jail in a graft case.
Former BNP lawmakers Wahab and Mashiur have recently been convicted in graft cases.
Besides, a large number of BNP leaders are facing corruption and violence cases and their trial is going on in full swing.
Khaleda is facing 34 more cases.
Tarique, who has been staying in London since 2008, is facing at least 80 cases.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is facing at least 84 cases, Mirza Abbas 47, Gayeshar Chandra Roy 38, Rafiqul Islam Miah 37, Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain 16, Moudud Ahmed 12, Tariqul Islam 12 and Nazrul Islam Khan 9 cases.
BNP policymakers alleged that the government wants to keep the Zia family out of politics and election.
BNP law affairs secretary Sanaullah Miah told the daily sun that the government is trying to keep away BNP leaders from the next national election through conviction.”
All the cases filed against BNP leaders are ‘politically motivated’, he said.