2020-03-25 14:12:38 BdST
Khaleda Zia walks out of jail
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia walked out of the jail after 25 months this afternoon as the government suspended her jail term by six months on two conditions.
It was reported in the media that her family appealed to the home ministry for her temporary release in early March.
Three weeks after the appeal, Law Minister Anisul Huq on Tuesday said the government stayed the effectiveness of the court sentence in an executive order and decided to release Khaleda for six months on condition of receiving treatment at home and not travelling abroad.
"We have decided to release her on humanitarian grounds as per the instructions of the prime minister,” Anisul Huq said.
The law ministry sent a recommendation to the home ministry informing its decision. Then the home ministry sent the papers to the prime minister’s official residence Ganabhaban on Wednesday.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan went to the Ganabhaban himself in the morning.
After the prime minister’s approval, the documents reached the home ministry on Wednesday afternoon.
The home ministry had earlier sent an order for Khaleda’s release to the prison authorities, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval.
The document was sent to the jail authorities at 2:10 pm. A jail officer then delivered the release papers to the hospital.
After the formalities of her release ended at the cabin block, a new wheelchair was taken to sixth floor room 621.
Khaleda's family members received her from the jail authorities and taking her to Gulshan residence.
BNP chief’s personal security forces with five cars and a microbus were seen at the hospital premises while her Nissan Patrol SUV was already waiting to pick her up and take her to her Gulshan home ‘Feroza’.
Several senior party leaders, including BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam were seen waiting at the hospital there for her release.
Hundreds of activists of her party welcomed her at the gate of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), where Khaleda was undergoing treatment from last year.
The situation became chaotic when BNP supporters crowded the hospital. BNP secretary-general was then seen requesting the supporters to clear out the hospital premises.
How Khaleda ended up in prison
In February 2018, Khaleda was sentenced to five years in prison in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The jail term was extended by another five years when an appeal was lodged with the High Court.
In November that year, she filed a petition with the Appellate Division seeking acquittal.
Her lawyers, however, are yet to present the petition to the court.
The BNP chief remains behind bars since the day she was sentenced.
Moreover, in October 2018, a special court sentenced her to a seven-year rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Charitable Trust case.
She was also fined Tk10 lakh, and another six-month jail term in case of defaulting on the fine.
The three other convicts of the case received the same punishment.
A month later, an appeal was filed with the High Court.
The court in April last year accepted the appeal for hearing. It suspended the fine and stayed the confiscation of her properties.
Also, the court asked officials concerned to submit case documents within two months. The case documents were sent to the court on June 20.
In July, the High Court dismissed Khaleda's bail petition.
She then submitted a bail petition to the Appellate Division, but the court dismissed it after hearing in December.
The Appellate Division at the time said Khaleda could be provided better treatment if she agreed.
The BNP chairperson again submitted a bail petition to the High Court, which the court rejected in February.
The court said Khaleda had to be provided treatment fast if she agreed and her medical board could include new physicians in the team if it wanted to do so.
Khaleda's family members had repeatedly been calling on the authorities to release her for treatment while her bail petition remained sub judice.
The Nationalist Lawyers' Forum also called on the government to release her under Article 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Amnesty International hailed the decision of the interim release of Khaleda Zia and hoped she would be given unrestricted access to healthcare.
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