Lawmaker Haji Salim went abroad and returned abiding by the law, said home minister Asaduzzaman Khan. He was speaking to newsmen today, Thursday, at the secretariat.
Awami League member of parliament Haji Salim reached the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 12:15 Thursday afternoon by a Thai Airways flight.
On Saturday afternoon he had left the country amid strict secrecy, flying from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Bangkok. His sudden departure created a stir and questions were raised as to whether a convicted person can lawfully leave the country.
Speaking about the matter following Haji Salim's return this afternoon, the home minister said, "He had gone to Bangkok on emergency medical treatment. He has returned."
Concerning the debate over Haji Salim's trip abroad, Asaduzzaman Khan said, "Since a legal question has arisen, he took care of these matters before leaving since there was a directive of the High Court regarding him. He is a respected member of parliament. He has respect for the law. He went abroad keeping the law in mind."
The home minister added, "I will answer this question like this, he (Haji Salim) abided by the law when he left and also abided by the law in his return."
The High Court verdict sentencing Haji Salim to 10 years imprisonment for amassing wealth beyond known means, was delivered on 10 February. The High Court ordered Haji Salim to surrender to the Dhaka special judge court-7 within 30 days of receiving a copy of the verdict. The Awami League lawmaker had left the country within this stipulated time.
Questions were raised regarding the legality of Haji Salim leaving the country despite being convicted. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Khurshid Alam on Saturday told Prothom Alo, "I feel that as a convicted person, Haji Salim no longer holds a seat in parliament. A convicted person cannot go abroad. BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia could not go abroad because she is convicted. There is no scope for Haji Salim to go abroad either. He is supposed to surrender."