Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia suspended prison sentence for quarantine

Dhaka: The Bangladesh government has conditionally released former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and suspended her sentence for six months, as the country goes all out in its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Thursday.

After serving 25 months for corruption cases, she was released through executive orders from the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on Wednesday evening, reports bdnews24.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supremo was driven to her residence in the captial city’s Gulshan area, as scores of supporters crowded her path and shouted slogans.

Earlier on Thursday, the Home ministry had ent an order for Khaleda’s release to the prison authorities, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave the go-ahead.

Khaleda, who is ailing, had been receiving treatment in prison said the bdnews24 report.

Expressing concerns over Khaleda’s health amid “risks of coronavirus infection”, BNP lawyers demanded her release the day before.

Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they wanted to keep Khaleda in “quarantine” and party leaders were discussing ways to keep her supporters away for some days.

Khaleda has been in prison since February 2018 after she was sentenced to a total of 17 years in two graft cases involving Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust.

She was initially kept at Old Dhaka’s abandoned central prison, but on April 1, 2019 she was moved to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for treatment.

In the past two years, Khaleda’s legal team had appealed several times for her bail but it was not granted.

It was reported in the media that her family appealed to the Home Ministry for her temporary release earlier this month.


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