Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supremo Khaleda Zia can stay out of prison for six more months, but in this period she cannot leave the country and has to receive treatment at her residence, the Law Ministry said.
In consideration of an application filed by her family, the Ministry has recommended extending the stay on the former Prime Minister’s jail term for six more months.
“We are of the opinion that her release term can be extended on the old conditions that she will be staying in Bangladesh and avail treatment at home,” Law Minister Anisul Huq told Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.
“On these two conditions, the earlier order of suspending her sentence and releasing her has been extended for another six months, starting from the date of the expiry of the earlier six months,” he added.
Zia was released from prison for six months on March 25 as the Covid-19 outbreak started to unfold in the country. That release order will expire on September 24.
“We have sent back the file to the Home Ministry. The Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) is the chief executive of the state. The Ministry will send it to her office for approval,” Huq added.
On August 25 in the application to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the BNP supremo’s younger brother Shamim Eskander had sought an extension of the stay on her jail term, mentioning no time frame.
AKM Ehsanur Rahman, one of Khaleda’s lawyers, had earlier said that Zia was not getting proper treatment due to the pandemic and therefore her family was seeking the extension.
The Home Ministry then forwarded the application to the Law Ministry for its consideration.
The government had suspended her jail sentence under Sub-Section 1 of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Bangladesh, which says: “When any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offence, the Government may at any time without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts, suspend the execution of his sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced.”
On July 3, 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against the former Prime Minister, her son and BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman and four others accusing them of misappropriating Tk2.1 crore of donations meant for a trust to be formed in her husband’s name.
On February 8, 2018, a special court convicted Zia and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the case.
She was sent to a special jail in the Old Dhaka central jail building on Nazimuddin Road.
On January 28, 2019, the High Court released the full text of its verdict, raising Zia’s prison term in the graft case to 10 years.
Meanwhile, the BNP chief and three others were sentenced to seven years in jail in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case on October 29, 2018.
The ACC filed the case on August 8, 2011, against Zia and three others, accusing them of abuse of power in raising funds for the trust by the name of the orphans.