Awami League lawmaker Haji Md Salim, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in a corruption case, returned to the country Thursday afternoon.
Later in the day he met with his lawyer. In keeping with the High Court ruling, he will surrender to the trial court within 25 days, his lawyer Sayed Ahmed said.
The High Court upheld 10-year imprisonment of Haji Salim handed down by a subordinate court for amassing illegal wealth. The full text of the High Court's verdict was published on 10 February. The High Court asked Salim to surrender to Dhaka’s Special Judge Court-7 within 30 days of receiving copy of the verdict.
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 to Prothom Alo on Thursday afternoon, Haji Salim's lawyer Sayed Ahmed said that High Court had given Haji Salim 30 days to surrender. That means, even though convicted, the sentence will come into effect after the stipulated 30 days. So in this span of time he enjoys a sort of bail provision. The special judge court received the High Court verdict on 25 April. That means he has up till 25 May to surrender. He will surrender within this time, probably after 16 May. A leave to appeal will be filed with the Appellate Division within this time, to appeal against the High Court verdict.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, replying to questions from the media, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan 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."
Meanwhile, according to sources close to Haji Salim, he had left the country by a flight from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Saturday, going to Bangkok.
Haji Salim had been sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment in the corruption case. He had appealed against the verdict with the High Court. After hearing the appeal, the High Court gave its verdict on 9 March, upholding a 10-year prison sentence against the lawmaker. The full text of the verdict was published in February. This was sent along with the relevant documents from the High Court to the special judge court on 25 April.