The BNP chief can stay out of jail on two conditions: she cannot leave Bangladesh, and she must get treatment at home
In consideration of an application from her family, the Ministry of Law has recommended extending the stay on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia'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.
Khaleda 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 is the chief executive of the state. The ministry will send it to her office for approval,” the law minister further said.
Earlier on August 25, in an application to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Khaleda Zia’s younger brother Shamim Eskander sought an extension of the stay on her jail term, mentioning no time frame.
Barrister AKM Ehsanur Rahman, one of Khaleda’s lawyers, told Dhaka Tribune that the former prime minister was not getting proper treatment due to the pandemic and therefore her family had sought the extension for her treatment.
The Home Ministry then forwarded the application to the Law Ministry for its consideration. Giving a positive opinion, the Law Ministry sent it back to the Home Ministry.
The government suspended her jail sentence under Sub-Section 1 of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 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.”
Why is Khaleda in jail?
On July 3, 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case against Khaleda Zia, her son and BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, and four others with Ramna police station, 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 Khaleda and sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the case. She was sent to serve her sentence at 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 Khaleda 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, with Tejgaon police station against Khaleda and three others, accusing them of abuse of power in raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.