The BNP chairperson's treatment has been hampered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, her family says
Family members of BNP chief Khaleda Zia have urged the government to extend her stay out of jail beyond the expiration of the September deadline to ensure her proper medical treatment that has faced setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Khaleda Zia was released from custody for six months on March 25, just a day before the government announced a general holiday to contain Covid-19 transmission in the country.
The government stayed her conviction for six months and freed her on humanitarian grounds considering her age with two conditions – she will not leave the country and will take treatment at home.
As the deadline approaches closer, with only a month left, family members and party leaders are now saying she needs more time out of jail to ensure proper and advanced treatment.
It will take some time considering her health condition and need for advanced treatment, they added.
They claimed that Khaleda was supposed to get treatment for multiple health complexities, but it was not possible because of the pandemic.
Although Khaleda is now mentally stable than earlier, her physical condition is still the same, they said.
Selima Rahman, member of BNP Standing Committee, said the family or party never asked the government to take her abroad for medical treatment, rather all they need is better treatment.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's lawyer Kaiser Kamal told Dhaka Tribune that she was released as the government decided to suspend her sentence for 6 months.
“Since this is not a court order, lawyers will not be able to appeal for an extension,” he said.
However, BNP wants her released on bail, and lawyers will continue to try in this regard, he added.
“If you still want to know what steps are being taken to keep her out of jail, I would say, her family will take appropriate action in due course,” he also said.
Khaleda Zia's personal physician Dr Abdullah Al Mamun said he is regularly checking Khaleda Zia's health condition and briefing family and party secretary general every day.
When asked, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the chairperson's physical condition did not improve, rather deteriorated.
“She used to eat earlier but now her taste is gone and she is not eating anything,” said Fakhrul.
“Almost all the hospitals were closed because of Covid-19 crisis and she did not receive treatment properly. There was no opportunity for her to conduct tests at the hospitals,” he added.
Khaleda Zia’s diabetes is not under control. She is suffering from high blood pressure, increasing pain in her legs and backbone, also various complexities, he claimed.
“She is staying at her residence for five months now, complying to all of the government conditions. To ensure advance treatment for her, the six month timeframe needs extension,” he added.
“We will discuss with her family and make a decision early next month,” said Fakhrul.
The BNP chairperson has been in jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018. She was convicted in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.
The 75 year old, who served as Bangladesh prime minister twice from 1991 to 1996 and 2001 to 2006, has been receiving treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in the capital since April 1, 2019, prior to her release in March 2020.
Following her release, she was taken to her home at road no 79 in the Gulshan area directly from jail.