The BNP chief’s lawyers say government can pardon her sentence under Section 401 of the Penal Code
The physicians treating BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who tested positive for Covid-19 twice in a month, have recommended that the former premier be taken abroad for better treatment.
On Tuesday, the 10-member medical board formed with doctors of the BNP and Evercare Hospital to review Khaleda Zia's condition assessed her health condition.
“Her physical condition is better than before. Her lungs have also improved. However, she has been given oxygen support,” Dr Abdullah Al Mamun, a member of Khaleda Zia’s personal medical team, told Dhaka Tribune.
He said that even though her condition was stable, it might deteriorate any time “since she had been suffering from various health problems for a long time before being infected with Covid-19.”
One of her lawyers said that the government could quash her sentence and release her unconditionally.
Khaleda Zia has been now undergoing treatment at Evercare Hospital in Dhaka since April 27. She was later moved to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) on Monday after complaining of breathing issues. Her shortness of breath was caused by excess fluid accumulating in her lungs.
She tested positive for Covid-19 on April 10 when eight people of her Gulshan residence were infected with the virus. She underwent the second test on April 24 and her report was positive. But her blood report and CT scan results were normal.
Her family members and her party want to take her abroad for treatment. But as per the government’s executive order following which she was released from jail on March 25 last year, she cannot go abroad and cannot take part in political activities.
She was released from the prison cell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) the same day and had been staying at her Gulshan house since then.
Her release was later extended on August 27 last year and March 15 this year.
Need to relax release conditions
According to family sources, preparations are underway to take her to London where her elder son Tarique Rahman lives with his family. The family, meanwhile, has sought permission from the government to allow her to go abroad for advanced treatment.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir discussed the matter with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Monday.
Khaleda Zia’s lawyers maintain that if the conditions of the temporary release are relaxed, there will be no impediment to her travelling abroad.
Barrister Kaiser Kamal told Dhaka Tribune: “If this condition is relaxed, revoked or amended by issuing a new gazette notification, she will be able to go abroad for advanced treatment. It will be possible to take her abroad only if the executive order is revised.”
“National leaders in different countries of the world are allowed to receive treatment abroad.” Khaleda Zia, as a former premier, should be allowed to go abroad on humanitarian grounds, he added.
Neither the BNP nor her family had appealed to the government to take the BNP chairperson abroad for advanced treatment, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said at a program on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq told Dhaka Tribune that the former prime minister could go abroad if the conditions related to her detention were relaxed. “But they need to apply to the government for permission.”
He said that an application was filed in April this year before she was infected with Covid-19.
Party leaders say an application has already been submitted to the government seeking permission to have her go abroad. However, the party could not confirm which country she might be taken to.
Barrister AKM Ehsanur Rahman, one of her lawyers, told Dhaka Tribune that she could go to any country if the government allowed her to go abroad.
He suggested that Khaleda Zia could be released unconditionally under Section 401 of the Penal Code through a lifting of her sentence.