Conviction and sentencing of former prime minister Khaleda Zia in a corruption case is no doubt a "big message", said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), yesterday.
Iftekharuzzaman said this while releasing findings of the Corruption Perceptions Index-2017 of Transparency International (TI) at a press conference at TIB's Dhanmondi office.
In the global index, among the 180 countries surveyed, Bangladesh ranked 17th from the bottom -- two steps up from the 15th position among the 176 countries surveyed in 2016.
On February 8, Special Judge's Court-5 of Dhaka found BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia guilty in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and sentenced her to five years of rigorous imprisonment.
Responding to a query whether Khaleda's conviction had any impact on Bangladesh's ranking in the index, Iftekharuzzaman replied in the negative.
He said the surveys for preparing the index were done before the pronouncement of the verdict.
“If it has any impact, it may surface in the next year's index and that would be appropriate…,” he said.
A former prime minister, who was also a former opposition leader of the parliament, faced trial for corruption charge and if it is proved before the apex court, there might be an impact, he said.
“However, one or two incident is not enough. This [Khaleda's conviction] is definitely a big message…,” he said.
During the last caretaker government, corruption cases were filed against Sheikh Hasina, now prime minister, and Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister.
Cases filed against Hasina were quashed by the court while Khaleda was convicted after trial.
When a journalist brought this matter to his attention, Iftekharuzzaman said, “We want that trial procedure against the accused persons will proceed without considering their [accused] identity and status. Responsible persons will discharge their duties considering that 'everyone is equal before the law'.”
If a perception is created that only a section of people are being brought to book, it will not yield any good result, and ultimately, corruption won't come under control, he said.
Asked about TIB's silence, as alleged by some ruling party leaders, over the conviction of Khaleda, Iftekharuzzaman said “We are not working on personal corruption. So this is nothing new that we won't comment on personal corruption.”
“We want to see an equal application of law everywhere,” he added.