Timeline: MiG-29 and Frigate Procurement Graft Cases Against Prime Minister Sheik Hasina (Thief) of Bangladesh

On July 16 2007, Bangladeshi Police escorted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh to a Dhaka court. Hasina was facing $4 million graft charges, was taken to a court but the hearing was adjourned after defence lawyers said she was ill and asked for bail. Photo: REUTERS

9 February 1999 – the purchase of MiG-29 aircraft “On February 9, 1999, eight MiG-29 fighter planes were procured for Bangladesh Air Force during Hasina’s tenure in line with the technical assistance deal signed between Bangladesh and Russia.

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11 December 2001, Bureau of Anti-Corruption registers MiG-29 corruption case “Abdullah Al Zahid, an official of the now defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption (Bac), filed the MiG-29 purchase case on December 11, 2001 with Tejgaon Police Station accusing five persons including Hasina after the BNP-led four-party alliance came to power.

August 2003, BAC submits chargesheet on frigate purchase On 4 August 2003 Prothom Alo reported that: “After a yearlong investigation, the Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) has submitted the chargesheet in the Frigate purchase case. The chargesheet included former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, former chief of staff of Bangladesh Navy Real Admiral (retd) Nurul Islam, former chief of staff (operation) of Bangladesh Navy Commodore (retd) AKM Azad, Former director (Naval Plan) Commodore (retd) Haroon-or-Rashid, Chairman of the Trans World Engineering and traiding Company Limited Abdul Awal Mintu and Commodore (retd) M Shahabuddin. The case was filed with the Tejgaon Police station on August 7 last year accusing the six for misappropriation of public money and misuse of power in purchasing the DW 2000H Frigate. It was alleged that the purchase made the public exchequer count BDT 511.17 crore in losses. The chargesheet was submitted to the court under Section 409/418/109 of the Penal Code and section 5(2) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 1974.

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August 2003, MiG-29 case begins in the International Court of Arbitration On 6 July 2003 Jugantor reports that the “[h]earing of the sensational Mig 29 case started in the International Court of Arbitration in Paris. Barrister Rafiqul Haque represented Bangladesh. It may be mentioned that in 1999 Awami League government purchased eight Mig 29 fighter plane from Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) paying half of the price. According to the contract rest of the amount was to be paid in instalment within 2006. So far two installations are arrears. And for this the RAC has gone to International Court of Arbitration. The Government claimed that the purchase made a great loss of Bangladesh and as such it has decided to contest in the case.

June 2007 – further allegations reported in relation to MiG-29 scandal On 13 June 2007 Bangladesh News reports that: “Businessman Noor Ali is claimed to have admitted to the joint forces that he gave BDT 1 crore to Awami League (AL) chief and the then prime minister Sheikh Hasina, and three flats to her cousin Sheikh Helal out of the US$4 million commission he received from MiG-29 purchase for Bangladesh Air Force during the AL rule”. It is also reported that: “Besides, he gifted Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wajed Joy half of a floor at UTC building at Panthapath in the capital for his IT office, and it was registered in the name of AL leader Kazi Zafarullah, sources quoted him as saying during questioning by the joint forces”. On 14 June it was reported that: “Two separate extortion cases – one for BDT 5 crore and another for over BDT 2.99 crore – were filed against former prime minister and Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina”

July 2007, Hasina is arrested On 17 July 2007 The Daily Star reports that: “The joint forces yesterday arrested Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina at her Dhanmondi residence in the city at around daybreak and later a court sent her to jail on charges of extortion”. According to the report the arrest created some political dissatisfaction: “AL supporters trying to stop the car carrying Hasina, the police charged baton and fired three rounds of rubber bullet to disperse the angry mob”. The report notes that: “In April, the government had tried to force Hasina stay abroad by imposing a ban on her coming home from the UK. But in the face of criticism both at home and abroad, it withdrew the restrictions, leading to a triumphant return for her”; and that: “Political observers see the arrest as a leap towards the “minus-two theory” that seeks to dethrone Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia who have reigned over the country’s politics for years”

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August 2007, High Court hears Hasina’s petitions to quash Mig-29 corruption case On 9 August 2007 The Daily Star reported that: “The High Court (HC) adjourned till August 21 hearing of three appeals by detained former prime minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina for quashing three graft cases against her in connection with the purchase of a frigate and eight MiG-29 fighter aircraft, and setting up Meghnaghat power plant. All the three appeals were on the case list for hearing by an HC bench. The court first took up for hearing Hasina’s appeal for quashing the case concerning MiG-29 purchase. In a packed courtroom, hearing started in the morning and continued till lunch break. At this stage, Hasina’s counsels sought more time to prepare for the cases. And the court adjourned hearing of all the three appeals till August 21. Later, one of Hasina’s counsels Barrister Shafique Ahmed told reporters that they (counsels) read out the first information report (FIR) and charge sheet of the case regarding MiG-29s, and submitted those along other relevant papers to the court. Shafique said they pointed out to the court that some essential ingredients of law are absent in the FIR and charge sheet of the case”

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September 2007, Anti-Corruption Commission sues Hasina and six others in relation to Khulna power plant contract On 3 September 2007 Bangladesh News reports that: “The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday sued detained former prime minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina and six prominent personalities in a Tk 3 crore graft case”. According to the report: “ACC Deputy Director Sabbir Hasan lodged the case with Tejgaon Police Station complaining that Hasina and the six others through mutual understanding and use of influence helped a foreign company and its local partners win a deal for setting up a barge-mount 100MW power plant in Khulna depriving the lowest bidder

September 2007, High Court turns down Hasina’s petitions and admits the Caretaker Government’s application to revive the MiG-29 corruption case On 6 September 2007 the Indo-Asian News Service reported that: “The Dhaka High Court Thursday turned down [Hasina’s] petition for quashing the case and admitted the government’s application to resume the trial that had been held in abeyance after a high court order six years ago”. It was also noted that: “Former army chief Lt Gen (retd) Mustafizur Rahman, ex air force chief Air Marshal (retd) Jamal Uddin Ahmed, retired defence secretary Syed Yusuf Hossain, Air Commodore (retd) Mirza Akhtar Maruf, retired defence joint secretary Mohammad Hossain Serniabat and businessman Noor Ali are also named in the charge sheet in the case”. On 7 September 2007, it was reported that: “Hasina’s counsel said they would move to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) seeking stay on the HC verdict.

February 2008, charges framed against Hasina and six others in relation to MiG-29 deal On 27 February 2008 The Daily Star reported that: “Hearing on the charge framing against detained former premier Sheikh Hasina and six others in connection with the MiG-29 corruption case will be held today”. It was also reported that: “Earlier on February 17, Judge Golam Mortuza Majumder of the Special Court for Dhaka Division fixed the hearing date”; and that: “The court directed the jail authorities to produce Hasina, now detained in a sub-jail at Sangsad Bhaban complex, on the scheduled date. The judge also served summons on the six other accused, now on bail, to show up on the same date”. It was also reported of previous events that: “On December 11 in 2001, Inspector Abdullah Al Zahid of now-defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption submitted charge sheet to Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court of Dhaka, showing 40 persons as prosecution witnesses”; and that: “The names of Brig Gen (retd) Iftekhar-Ul-Bashar and former deputy secretary Hasan Mahmood Delwar were dropped from the case due to poor evidence while the former army chief Mustafizur Rahman, Air Commodore (retd) Mirza Akhter Maruf, former joint secretary Hossain Serniabat and businessman Nur Ali were implicated in the case after investigators found their involvement in the scam”. A Bangladesh News article reported on 28 February 2008 that: “The names of Brig Gen (retd) Iftekhar-Ul-Bashar and former deputy secretary Hasan Mahmood Delwar were dropped from the list of accused due to lack of evidence while former army chief Mustafizur Rahman, Air Commodore (retd) Mirza Akhter Maruf, former joint secretary Hossain Serniabat and businessman Nur Ali were indicted in the case after investigators found their involvement in the scam.

May 2008, Gen Mustafiz arrested and granted bail until 2 June 2008 On 29 May 2008 The Daily Star reported that: “A special court yesterday granted bail to ailing former army chief Gen (retd) Mustafizur Rahman, an accused in the MiG-29 purchase graft case, until June 2”. According to the report: “Police [had] arrested Gen (retd) Mustafiz on May 25 at the hospital following an arrest warrant issued against him on May 20”; and: “Gen (retd) Mustafiz’s counsel advocate Syed Rezaur Rahman…told the court that the former army chief had been suffering from heart disease and he was brought to the court in a stretcher, as he even could not sit in a wheelchair”. It was also noted that: “The court also fixed June 2 for the next hearing on charge framing against detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Gen (retd) Mustafiz and five others in the case.

Hasina was arrested on 16 July 2007 for allegedly extorting nearly $430,000 from a businessman, Azam J Chowdhury, in 2000-2001. Chowdhury’s company, East Coast Trading, was seeking a government contract to build a power plant outside Dhaka, while Hasina was prime minister.

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