• Monday, Aug 08, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

BNP chief Khaleda Zia released from jail on humanitarian grounds

  • Published at 04:16 pm March 25th, 2020
Khaleda-Zia-Released-Mahmud Hossain Opu-BSMMU
File photo: BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, assisted by her sister Selima Rahman, younger brother Shamim Eskander and his wife Kaniz Fatema, comes out of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The government has suspended her sentence for six months in line with CrPC Section 401(1)

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has been released from jail, following a government decision to stay her conviction for six months and free her on humanitarian grounds considering her age.

The 75-year-old came out from the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital with her family members at 4:14pm on Wednesday.

Though the city's roads were almost empty, it took them nearly an hour to reach Khaleda's Gulshan residence "Firoza," as huge number of BNP leaders and activists escorted the vehicle carrying her up to Karwanbazar. 

Khaleda's home at Road No 79 in Gulshan area, which turned into an abandoned house since she went to jail, was prepared, dewormed and sanitized for her comfortable stay there.

They entered the building around 5:15pm.

Earlier, Khaleda’s sister Selima Rahman, younger brother Shamim Eskander and his wife Kaniz Fatema had gone to BSMMU Hospital to take her home.

At 2:40pm, Khaleda's personal vehicles along with her personal security members were seen entering the BSMMU compound, following the family members' arrival.

With permission from the authorities, four doctors and one nurse, who were part of the medical team appointed for Khaleda at BSMMU, were seen entering the hospital.

Earlier in the day, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had said that the BNP chief will stay under Shamim's custody over the period of six months.

Khaleda was kept at Room 612 and 613 of the prison cell at the BSMMU before release.

Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir was also seen present on the BSMMU compound.

BSMMU had been providing her with treatment for various health complications since April 2019.

Khaleda Zia, who served as Bangladesh prime minister twice from 1991 to 1996 and 2001 to 2006, is expected to head straight to her Gulshan home in Dhaka upon her release.

Earlier on Tuesday night, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi urged party leaders and activists not to gather in front of BSMMU over the release, citing health risks for the party chief and others amid the coronavirus outbreak.

After the government announced that Khaleda will be released from jail, her Gulshan residence was cleaned, dewormed and refurbished to welcome her, Mirza Fakhrul told reporters.

He said Khaleda’s personal physicians will provide her treatment at her residence. “We’ve made all the arrangements.”

He also said it depends on Khaleda’s decision whether she will receive treatment at her residence or any hospital.

Two conditions for Khaleda’s release

On Tuesday, Law Minister Anisul Huq confirmed the government decision and said Khaleda would be released on the conditions that she does not leave the country and she receives treatment at home.

The government suspended her sentence for six months according to the Sub-section 1 of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), he said.

The minister also said the recommendation to release the BNP chief was sent to the Home Ministry on Tuesday] and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already  given them directives in this regard and informed them to grant Khaleda's release following legal procedure.

However, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they will decide about Khaleda's treatment abroad, which is not allowed on the release order, after discussing the matter with Tarique Rahman, Khaleda’s son and also the acting chairperson of BNP, and the party high command.

Khaleda’s conviction

On July 3, 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against Khaleda and others with Ramna police station accusing them of misappropriating Tk2.1 crore in donations meant for a trust to be formed in her husband's name.

On February 8, 2018, a special court convicted Khaleda and sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the graft case. Later, she was sent to serve her jail sentence at a special jail at the old Dhaka central jail building at Nazimuddin Road. 

On January 28, 2019, the High Court released the full text of its verdict, doubling the jail term of Khaleda in the graft case to 10 years from five years.  

On the other hand, the BNP chief and three others were sentenced to seven years imprisonment in Zia Charitable Trust case on October 29, 2018. 

The ACC filed the case on August 8, 2011, with Tejgaon police against four people, including Khaleda Zia, accusing them of abusing power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.

Khaleda’s family pleas for her release

Earlier, Khaleda’s family members submitted an application to the Home Ministry seeking her release from jail on humanitarian grounds.

Her younger brother Shamim Eskander filed an application this month with the ministry for her release with an executive order.

After filing the application, Shamim, Khaleda’s sister Selima Islam, and Selima’s husband Rafiqul Islam met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and informed her about the application for Khaleda’s release through an executive order from her.

The Law Ministry also had sent a recommendation to the Home Ministry in this regard.