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Bail extended for ex-PM Zia in corruption case




A court in Bangladesh Tuesday once again extended the bail granted to imprisoned former prime minister Khaleda Zia in a corruption case after her lawyer sought an extension citing her illness.

The bail of the 72-year-old three-time former premier and opposition leader in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case has been extended at least five times since March, Dhaka Tribune reported.

But, Zia, also the chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), will have to stay in jail as other cases are pending against her. She was not present in the court when the judgement was passed today, the report said. Judge Dr Akhteruzzaman of the Special Judge Court 5 extended Zia’s bail until July 17.

The court had fixed July 10 for the hearing of the case against Zia and three others accused. She was also supposed to be produced before the court.

However, her lawyer asked for an extension of the bail due to her illness, the report added.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last week accused her arch-rival Zia of “faking” her illness in jail to avoid appearances in court.

Zia is lodged in a 200-year-old prison in Dhaka for the last four months.

She was jailed for five years in February in connection with the embezzlement of 21 million taka (about US$ 250,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust, named after her late husband Ziaur Rahman, a military ruler-turned-politician.

The Zia charitable graft case, filed in August 2011, accuses four persons including Zia of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.

The three others are: Harris Chowdhury, political secretary of then prime minister Zia between 2001 and 2006; Ziaul Islam Munna, Assistant Private Secretary (APS) to Harris; and Monirul Islam Khan, APS of former Dhaka city mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.

The Zia Charitable Trust graft case is one of dozens pending against Zia.

The charges against her had already led to her boycotting polls in 2014, which triggered widespread protests at the time. The BNP had termed the elections as “farcical”.

The BNP has claimed that the cases are politically-motivated to keep its party chief out of the national elections scheduled for December.


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