Dhaka – The temporary bail order for Bangladesh’s former prime minister Khaleda Zia has been stayed by the country’s apex court making her release from the prison uncertain for the time being, officials said on Monday.
A four-member panel of judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the stay for nearly two months on Khaleda’s four-month interim bail granted by a panel of two-member judges earlier this month, prosecution lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said.
The latest order came after the court granted two leave-to-appeal petitions filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the government against the High Court order that was passed on March 12.
The court fixed May 8 to hear the previously passed order of bail asking both prosecution and defence lawyers to submit concise statements on the appeal in after receiving the leave granting order.
The release of Khaleda, who is now in Dhaka Central Jail following her conviction in a graft case, seems uncertain for now as the hearing of the bail order will being in early May.
The acceptance of the leave to appeal by the anti-graft watchdog and the government allows the prosecution to move separate appeals before the Supreme Court against the High Court order.
Khaleda Zia has also been asked to submit concise statement on the appeal in two weeks after the ACC and government file their concise statements.
A two-judge panel of the High Court on March 12 approved an order for interim bail of four months after granting Khaleda’s appeal against a five-year prison term handed down by a lower court.
The special court in Dhaka on February 8 sentenced Khaleda, the head of opposition Bangladesh Nationalsit Party, to five years in jail for misappropriating funds meant for orphans
The 72-year old politician was transported to Dhaka Central Jail after the court convicted her of transferring 21 million taka (252,203 dollars) to personal accounts from a charity, named after Zia’s slain husband Ziaur Rahman, during her 1991-96 tenure as prime minister.
Defence lawyers termed the latest court decision unprecedented.
“It is unwarranted, and we are frustrated with the court order,” said Joynul Abedin, one of the lawyers who defended the former prime minister in the court of law.
Tarique Rahman, Khaleda’s son who lives in exile in London, and four others were also sentenced to 10 years in jail for the misappropriation of the funds.