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Zia Orphanage Trust graft case: HC grants Khaleda four-month interim bail

12 March 2018

Bangladeshs ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia today received a temporary relief after a top court granted the opposition BNP chief a four-month bail in a corruption case, a month after she was sentenced to five years in jail.

Despite the decision, it was not immediately clear if or when Zia would be freed from jail.

Court sources said the order was passed after Dhaka's Gulshan police station OC Abu Bakar Siddique pleaded to the court to show her arrested in the case. Zia has had various health complications in the past.

The court also directed the office concerned to prepare the paperbook of the case within the next four months for hearing the appeal she filed against her conviction in the case.

Zia, 72, was sentenced to five years in jail on February 8 in connection with the embezzlement of 21 million taka (about Dollars 250,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust, named after her late husband Ziaur Rahman, a military ruler-turned-politician. Zia will not be able to contest in the general election of 2018 because the constitution of Bangladesh prohibits a convicted person sentenced to over two years from participating. Rahman lives in London and was tried in absentia.

Under Bangladesh electoral rules, anyone jailed for more than two years can not contest an election for five years.

There were no members of law enforcement in the area around 6:00am when the BNP leader took out the procession demanding release of party chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Both women came from political dynasties. Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country's independence leader and first president, who was assassinated in 1975 along with most of his family members.

The BNP boycotted the last polls, in 2014, in a protest against Hasina's scrapping of the practice of having a caretaker government oversee elections.

Zia Orphanage Trust graft case: HC grants Khaleda four-month interim bail