Bangladesh Supreme Court upholds bail for opposition leader

High Court Supreme Court

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a High Court's decision to grant bail to opposition leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who was jailed for five years on a corruption conviction. The apex court has upheld the High Court's order giving her bail.

The High Court on March 12 granted Zia a four-month interim bail, considering her age and health issues after the special court released the full verdict.

The SC also issued an order to dispose of Khaleda's appeal petition challenging the lower court's verdict in the case by July 31.

The BNP chief has been in the old jailhouse on Nazimuddin Road after she was convicted of embezzling funds meant for orphans.

Zia's lawyer Khandakar Mahbub Hossain told The Daily Star that the 72-year-old chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party can not be released from jail despite Wednesday's judgment, as she has been arrested in three other cases.

A four-member bench, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order on Wednesday after rejecting appeals filed by the state and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

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Bangladesh law says anyone imprisoned for more than two years can not run for office for the next five years, but Law Minister Anisul Huq had said the final decision rests with the higher courts.

The court 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 Tk 2.10 crore, saying that all the convicts have to pay the fine in equal amounts.

Khaleda Zia's lawyer Joynal Abedin appeared optimist and said that they expect to secure bail in other cases as well.

In another development, the hearings of 11 cases, including a sedition suit, filed against Khaleda were adjourned by a Dhaka court yesterday until July 1.

In the petitions, Khaleda's lawyer Sanaullah Mia mentioned that his client had earlier filed writ petitions with the HC seeking quashing of the case proceedings.

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