Former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia will have to stay in prison until May, after the country’s top court yesterday stayed a temporary bail order for her following a petition by government lawyers.
Zia was jailed last month in a graft case.
Yesterday’s order means she will remain jailed until May 8, at least.
A two-judge High Court panel approved an order for four months of interim bail on March 12, after granting Zia the right to appeal a five-year prison term handed down by a lower court.
But yesterday, a four-member Supreme Court panel headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain overturned the bail, after hearing a petition by the state counsels, according to prosecution
lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan.
Zia, who is also the chief of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was sent to Dhaka Central Jail on February 8, after a special court in Dhaka sentenced her to five years in jail for misappropriating funds meant for orphans.
Defence lawyers vented frustration yesterday about the
latest court decision.
“It is unwarranted and we are frustrated with the court order,” said Joynul Abedin, one of the lawyers handling Zia’s defence.
The government’s intentions were reflected in the court’s orders, alleged Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, general secretary of the BNP, which earlier dismissed the conviction of the party chief as politically motivated.
The 72-year-old politician was convicted of transferring 21mn taka ($252,203) to personal accounts from a charity named after her slain husband, Ziaur Rahman, during her 1991-96 tenure as prime minister.
The lower court also sentenced Tarique Rahman, Zia’s son, who lives in exile in London, and four others to 10 years in jail.
Zia’s conviction in the graft case has made her chances of contesting the next general election against her arch political rival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, exceedingly slim, as Bangladeshi law disqualifies anyone imprisoned for at least two years for moral turpitude from running for office.
A widow of army chief-turned president Ziaur Rahman, Zia was twice elected prime minister of Bangladesh, a country politically divided between her Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League party.
Zia’s boycott allowed Hasina, a political heir of the country’s founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to win the 2014 general election by a big margin.
Zia has been facing at least 30 other charges that include corruption,
violence and sedition.
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