Khaleda gets 6-month break from jail
Published : Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 172
Around 775 days of imprisonment after conviction in a graft case, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is likely to get released from jail for six months on humanitarian grounds and considering her age. However, she will have to take treatment at home during the period.
Despite the government's decision to release her and Law Minister Anisul Huq said she may get released from jail on Wednesday after completion of all procedures.
After getting opinion and approval from the Ministry of Law, the Home Ministry on Tuesday forwarded a file to the Prime Minister for her approval. Once the approval is received, the Home Ministry will issue an order and forward it to the prison authority for releasing the elderly politician and former Prime Minister of the country.
Meanwhile, the major opposition political party of the country, BNP and Khaleda Zia's family members have praised the government's decision to allow her release and hailed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her kind consideration.
At around 4:00pm on Tuesday, Law Minister Anisul Huq gave the announcement of releasing Khaleda Zia for six months at a press conference held at his office in Gulshan.
He said the government on Tuesday decided to release BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for six months on humanitarian grounds and considering her age.
To allow her the release, the government suspended her sentence as per section 401 of Criminal Code of Procedure for the tenure. However, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia will have to stay home in Dhaka and receive her treatment here, the Minister said, adding that she would not be allowed to leave the country.
In reply to a question, Anisul Huq said the Home Ministry will take decision about the timing of her release.
"Following the Prime Minister's order and as per the law, we have decided to stay her sentence for six months and she will be released for a period of six months when she must stay in her own house and take treatment in the country. She would not be able to go abroad during the time," the Minister added.
He said the decision was taken as per section 401 (1) of Code of Criminal Procedure. "I have sent my opinion to the Home Ministry on Tuesday," he added.
The Law Minister said Khaleda Zia's brother Shamim Iskander, sister Selima Islam and brother-in-law Rafikul Islam had called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and pleaded to release her on executive order. After that the Prime Minister asked to take a decision as per the law in this regard.
He said the condition does not mean that she will not be allowed to go to hospital during the time, but Khaleda would not be allowed to go abroad. The decision would come into effect once the Ministry of Home Affairs approves it.
However, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said his office would take steps for 74-year Zia's release, now being treated for old-age complications at the prison cell of a state-run specialized hospital, "as soon as we receive the file from the Law Ministry."
The Home Ministry officials, however, said the Law Ministry's proposal reached them by now while they were now executing the legal procedures to be approved "finally by the Prime Minister."
"Under the current situation sending someone abroad is like telling her to commit suicide," Anisul Huq added.
While talking to media on Tuesday, Home Minister Kamal said, "The Law Minister made his statement in consultation with the Prime Minister. Our procedure will start after the Prime Minister's approval."
Mahbubul Islam, jailer of Dhaka Central Jail, said, "We haven't yet received any letter from the Home Ministry. But, we have seen such news on TV. We will take steps once we get the order."
A Dhaka Special Judge Court-5 on February 8, 2018, sentenced the BNP leader to five-year imprisonment and other five accused including her fugitive elder son and BNP's senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman, to a 10-year imprisonment each. She was sent to jail on the day.
The High Court on October 30, 2018, enhanced BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's five-year jail term to 10 years in the case, allowing a revision plea filed by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against the lower court judgment.
Dhaka Special Judge Court-5 on October 29 in 2018, sentenced BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and three others to seven-year imprisonment each in Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
The court also fined them Tk 10 lakh each, in default to suffer more six months in jail.
"This is a decision we welcome," BNP leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told newsmen in brief comments at the hospital premises while Khaleda's younger sister Selima Islam said, "I thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina."
Khaleda currently is taking treatment in custody at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).