Bangladesh frees jailed former PM Khaleda Zia on condition for six months - GulfToday

Bangladesh frees jailed former PM Khaleda Zia on condition for six months


Khaleda Zia, right, sits in a car after being released, for medical reasons, from prison in Dhaka. AFP

Bangladesh's government on Wednesday released imprisoned opposition leader and ailing former prime minister Khaleda Zia for six months on condition that she stays at home and does not attempt to leave the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had suspended her prison term for six months, her party general secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said.
Her health has been deteriorating for months and she was moved to a hospital in April last year.

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Zia had spent more than two years in the prison cell of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in the capital, Dhaka. Her family and senior party leaders received her as hundreds of supporters ignored calls to avoid gathering to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Wearing a mask, Zia came out in a wheelchair and rode a car to her home in Dhaka's Gulshan area.

“She is very sick and she will now be treated by top Bangladeshi doctors," BNP vice-chairman Zahid Hossain said.

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Zia's release was granted on the condition that she stayed in Dhaka for treatment of her diabetes and arthritis.

Her family had appealed for her to be allowed to go to Britain for treatment.

On Tuesday, Law Minister Anisul Huq said Zia, 74, was being released on humanitarian grounds considering her age. She will receive her remaining treatment at home, he said.

Zia was sentenced to 17 years in prison in two corruption cases. Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party says the cases were politically motivated. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Zia’s archrival, denies the allegation.

Zia’s party says she is seriously ill with ailments including respiratory problems and arthritis.

In February, the High Court rejected an appeal by Zia seeking her release for medical treatment in the United Kingdom for chronic arthritis.

Zia was convicted in February 2018 on charges of misusing her power by embezzling some $250,000 in donations meant for an orphanage trust. She was later convicted in another corruption case.


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