Tarique must face justice: PM


 LONDON, April 18, 2018 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is now in the British capital to join the Commonwealth Summit, has said fugitive convict Tarique Rahman must face justice for the crimes he committed while her government was in talks with UK authorities for his extradition.

“He (Tarique) will have to face the court . . . definitely we will bring him back (to be exposed to justice) one day,” she told a function late yesterday in London.

The premier was critical of the UK for providing refuge to a convicted fugitive like Tarique but added “we are in talks with the British government” for his extradition.

Sheikh Hasina said Britain was a free country while it was also true that anybody could seek refuge there, “but Tarique Rahman has been convicted by the court for committing crimes and I don’t understand how the UK has given shelter to a convicted person”.

The High Court three years ago jailed him for seven years in a corruption case while several courts earlier issued arrest warrant against Tarique, now the acting BNP chairperson, declaring him a fugitive as he was wanted in a number of criminal and graft cases.

Tarique, who has been living in London since 2007, was charged under Money Laundering Act while the High Court also fined him Taka 200 million in its verdict in 2016.

According to one of the pending charges he masterminded the 2004 grenade attack on a rally of the then main opposition Awami League killing 24 people while Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped the assault but with permanent hearing impairment.

Bangladesh earlier asked London to return Tarique but the British authorities so far declined to make any public statement on the issue calling it a “personal matter of an individual”.

Tarique was put behind the bar on several charges during the past military-backed interim government but was allowed to take an overseas tour for medical treatment under a Supreme Court order at the fag end of that regime.

But he preferred to stay back in London from where he became the senior vice president of BNP, which in February this year installed him as the acting party chief after a court sentenced her mother and BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia to a five-year prison term in a corruption case.

The premier’s comments yesterday came as she joined a discussion titled ‘Bangladesh’s Development Story: Policies, Progresses and Prospects’ at Overseas Development Institute (ODI) as the keynote speaker when the Rohingya issue also largely featured her address.

Sheikh Hasina accused Myanmar of being non-responsive to an agreement it signed with Dhaka for repatriating the Rohingyas “though “ministers of both countries visited Bangladesh and Myanmar”.

“Unfortunately, Myanmar is not taking any initiative for their repatriation . . . though Bangladesh government has been showing friendly gesture to it,” she said.

The premier said despite the eagerness it showed, practically Myanmar did nothing for their repatriation and “that’s why we want the international community to put more pressure on Myanmar”.

She noted that many refugees were staying on the zero lines as well but Myanmar took only half members of a family as “may be they want to show the world they are taking them back”.

“It’s a good sign. But, why only half of one family?” the premier said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government, however, was making arrangements for Rohingyas relocation to a place where they could live in a better way as the monsoon was approaching and accidents might take place in their current makeshift crammed abodes.

“We are giving all kinds of support . . . everything including food we are providing,” she said adding her government started building some houses and cyclone shelters in that place so that they can go there.

The premier added: “If they wish they could do something for livelihood there.”