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Can a convict go abroad taking advantage of surrendering time?

19 May 2022

Staff Reporter :
A controversy has been raised after the recent foreign trip by Haji Mohammad Salim alias Haji Salim, a member of parliament from Dhaka-7 constituency, despite being convicted for 10 years in a corruption case.
Although the court has given 30 days time to him for surrender in the lower court after receiving the copy of the High Court verdict, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Khurshid Alam said Haji Salim has lost the right to travel abroad after being convicted.
Meanwhile, Attorney General AM Amin Uddin in a recent program said the High Court has given one month time to Haji Salim for surrender in the trial court. So there is no legal bar for him to go abroad within this period, added the chief law officer of the state.  
In a recent briefing Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, "When the High Court gives a verdict, the official verdict arrives too. However, Haji Salim went abroad and came back before the implementation of that."
Haji Salim flew to Bangkok, Thailand, via Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport hiding on 30 April, this year, and returned Dhaka from Bangkok, on May 5.
The High Court on March 9 in 2021 upheld 10 years' imprisonment given to Haji Salim in the case filed on charge of possessing wealth worth Tk 269.2 million beyond his known source of income. The court also upheld the fine of Tk 1.0 million imposed by the lower court.  
However, the ruling party man was acquitted of three years' imprisonment given by a special court on charge of concealing information of his assets in the same case.
The High Court bench of Justice Md Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Justice AKM Zahirul Huq delivered the verdict after holding hearing on an appeal petition filed by Haji Salim against the special court verdict. The full text of the verdict was released on February 10 in 2022.
Haji Salim has been asked to surrender to the lower court within 30 days of receiving a copy of the High Court's verdict.  The High Court has asked the special court to issue an arrest warrant against him if he does not surrender within this period.
The court also acquitted Salim's wife Gulshan Ara Begum as she died in November 2020 during the pendency of her appeal against her three years jail term given by the same special court. Gulshan Ara was sentenced for abetting and aiding Salim in possessing the illegal properties he acquired since 1991.
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said that Salim could no longer remain an MP as per the Article 66(2)(d) of the Constitution as the HC upheld his 10 years' jail sentence.
The lawyer also said the trial court will send Salim to jail if he surrenders to it. Salim will have to seek bail from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court after going to jail in this case, the ACC lawyer added.
Salim's lawyer Sayed Ahmed Raza, however, said his client would move an appeal before the Appellate Division challenging the HC verdict.
The ACC on October 24, 2007 filed the case with the Lalbagh Police Station against Haji Salim on charge of possessing wealth worth Tk 269.2 million beyond his known source of income.
The trial court on April 27, 2008 sentenced Haji Salim to 13 years' imprisonment in two charges in the case.
Salim filed the appeal petition in 2009 against the jail term handed down by the Special Judge's Court-7 on April 27, 2008. The High Court on January 2, 2011 acquitted him of the charges by cancelling the special court's judgement.
On January 12, 2015 the Appellate Division, responding to an ACC appeal, cancelled the High Court judgement that scrapped the special court verdict sentencing him to 13 years in jail and asked to hold rehearing of Haji Salim's appeal petition in the High Court.

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