‘PM Hasina wants BNP and Begum Zia family out of politics’: British parliamentarian Lord Carlile

Lord Alexander Carlile

Slams Indian government for denying entry to India

By Abdul Bari Masoud, MuslimsMirror.com,

New Delhi / London: Famed British parliamentarian and the legal consultant to jailed former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Lord Alexander Carlile on Thursday slammed the Indian government for sending him back from the Delhi airport on Wednesday soon after his arrival due to an “inappropriate” visa. He said, “this is no way to treat a 70-year senior lawyer and Parliamentarian after granting the visa to him a few days ago.” Alleging that India is “interfering” in Begum Khaleda Zia’s case, he said the Bangladesh government has adopted the “unfair and unjust approach” in the Begum Zia’s case in order to keep the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Zia family out of politics with frivolous cases.

Addressing media persons through video conferencing soon after he reached London, Lord Carlile said he had come to Delhi to brief about facts of the cases against Begum Zia and her son because the Bangladesh Government deliberately had delayed a decision over his visa application and attack on him by the Attorney General of Bangladesh.

“Before one comes to the facts of the cases against my client, I have to express my alarm about the control of the judiciary by the Government of Bangladesh in its various forms. Last week’s media attack on me by the Attorney General for my mere involvement as counsel, in this case, demonstrates an example of the venal sin of political interference in a court case. Also, hearings are manipulated to be placed before judges who were Awami League activists before being elevated to the Bench.”

Lord Carlile has been hired by Begum Zia, since March this year so as to become part of her legal team. The team is trying hard to get her and her son Tarique Rahman out of jail. Both face multiple criminal and economic offences like embezzlement of huge sums running into crores of Takas and both the defendants have been claiming that these cases were set up against the two at the behest of ruling Awami League party of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid in order to take political vendetta against them and their political outfit, the BNP.

He also criticized the Indian authorities for denying him entry to India.

“Yesterday whilst in mid-air, I was refused entry to India. The Indian Government knew perfectly well why I was coming – to give this briefing and to meet the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.”

He said that India has a free atmosphere for media to lay bare the ‘unfair and unjust approach” of the Bangladesh authorities in the case of his client Begum Khaleda Zia.

“Since I was not permitted to come to Dhaka, so, I wanted to conduct a press conference from India “to explain the complexities in Khaleda Zia’s case to the international media community”.

Presenting a 21-point defence of Khaleda Zia who has been the twice prime minister of Bangladesh, he said in the various proceedings against her there was “no admissible evidence against her of dishonesty or other criminal activity”.

“Judgment and imprisonment are founded upon assertions that amount to guilt by association – because she knows someone or is close to them, she is held liable for their alleged dishonesty. This is an outrage against the normal burden and standard of proof.”

When asked how a foreign lawyer can plead the case of Begum Zia in Bangladesh, he stated that “his role is to examine the evidence and judgments against her, and to advice and comment as to whether they fall within international and Common Law Rule of Law norms, which are applicable in Bangladesh”.

In response to another question, he said 8 cases have been created against Begum Zia with “with a clear ulterior motive” to keep out Zia family from politics.

“I can only conclude that the Government has itself behaved dishonestly, with a clear ulterior motive – to keep my client, her son Tarique Rahman, and their Party the BNP out of effective Bangladesh politics and thereby out of the forthcoming election. This is an affront to democracy.”

He gave details of the cases how the judicial and criminal justice system has been ‘manipulated” by the Bangladesh government to drive out the political opponents from the political scene.

For example, Begum Zia’ son Tarique Rahman was also subjected to injustice in relation to the 21 August 2004 Grenade attack case. His trial in his absence was a travesty, relying on material obtained under torture of Mawlana Mufti Hannan. He had spent 410 days in police custody, during which he was tortured. On the 7 April 2007 he withdrew his statement and described the horrific torture he had suffered, and the bribes he was offered. He was also threatened with death. Moreover, his death sentence was executed without giving any opportunity for defence to cross-examine him,” Lord Carlile added.

On human rights, he said Amnesty International and other rights groups have severely criticized Sheikh Hasina and her government on this count.

When asked how he does see the death sentences awarded to half a dozen Jamaat Islami leaders for alleged war crimes since December 2013. The ace British lawyer said the judiciary in Bangladesh did not follow the “international norms and standards” in delivering the justice to the Jamaat leaders.

“Human rights groups had pointed out that the trials fell short of global standards and lack international oversight,” he said.

The Sheikh Hasina government even did not spare the 73-year old top Jamaat leader Motiur Rahman Nizami from the execution who like other convicted Jamaat leaders had refused to seek presidential clemency.

Amnesty International noted that the United Nations had raised questions about the fairness of the trials of Nizami and other Islamist party leaders.

The ace legal luminary, Lord Carlile concluded the 21-point defence of Begum Zia and her son by saying that, “The end goal is clear – it is to keep the BNP and the Zia family out of politics with frivolous cases with the aid of judiciary since people at large place a lot of faith in any judicial process.”

There will be a further briefing in London in a few days’ time,” he added.

He also criticized the Indian government for what he called “interfering” in the Begum Zia case.

“I am outraged by the political interference in Begum Khaleda Zia’s case on political grounds by 2 governments, and I expect a full explanation from the Indian Government,” he asked.

His denying entry to India would become a diplomatic row between the two countries as he was given the Indian visa by the Indian High Commission in London.

However, soon after the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar issued a statement in Delhi to deny what the visiting British lawyer had to say. “Lord Alexander Carlile, a British national, arrived in New Delhi on July 11, 2018, without having obtained the appropriate Indian visa. His intended activity in India was incompatible with the purpose of his visit as mentioned in his visa application. It was therefore decided to deny him entry into India upon arrival, ” Kumar said.


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