Bangladesh SC grants bail to ex-PM Khaleda Zia in corruption case

B'desh SC grants bail to ex-PM Zia in graft case

The top court of Bangladesh on Wednesday upheld the bail given to Bangladesh Nationalist Party Supremo and Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia given by the High Court.

Zia has been in jail for more than three months in the graft case for misusing power and embezzling about $250,000 involving a trust fund named after her late husband, former President Ziaur Rahman.

The Supreme Court rejected both of the appeals upholding the bail.

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After hearing arguments on Tuesday, the Appellate Division set Wednesday to deliver its order on the two petitions filed challenging Khaleda's bail granted by the High Court.

Earlier on February 22, the High Court asked Dhaka Special Judge Court-5, which convicted Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, to send the case documents within 15 days.

Her lawyers, however, said that the verdict was unlikely to bring the 72-year-old Zia out of prison as her bail pleas in at least five similar cases against her were pending hearing. The court had also sentenced Khaleda's elder son Tarique Rahman, now in the United Kingdom, and four others to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment each, and fined them a total of 2.1 crore taka, saying that all the convicts have to pay the fine in equal amounts.

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The BNP, the main opposition outside parliament, had alleged the trial was politically motivated to debar her from contesting elections, a charge denied by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas government.

On Khaleda's freedom from jail, BNP lawyer Moudud Ahmed said: "We have to try to seek bail in other cases for that". The apex court directed the High Court to hear her petition and positively dispose of it by the end of July.

Khaleda's lawyer Zainul Abedin told the SC that the arguments made by the attorney general had gone in favour of his client as the AG placed some instances, saying that the SC had not interfered in the HC orders that granted bail to the convicted in different cases.

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This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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