Dhaka – Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has announced demonstration across Bangladesh for Sunday to demand release of the party’s jailed chairperson Khaleda Zia after the country’s top court denied her bail on Thursday.
A six-member panel of judges headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain rejected the bail petition moved by Khaleda’s lawyers in a graft case for which she was convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail by a trial court in 2018.
The defence lawyers said they pleaded for Khaleda’s bail on humanitarian ground as she is seriously ill. “But the court rejected the petition citing no reason,” said Zainul Abedin, one of the defence lawyers.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the court reviewed the heath condition report of the former prime minister and asked the government to arrange improved medical treatment for Khaleda provided that she agrees.
Khaleda Zia, also the chief of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has been in jail since February 2018 when a court convicted and sentenced her to five years in jail – a prison term doubled later by a higher court – for misappropriating funds meant for orphans.
The 74-year old politician was shifted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for treatment after her health condition deteriorated in April. Khaleda Zia has been suffering from arthritis and other complexities.
The court passed the order amid tight security as in the previous hearing the pro-BNP lawyers made uproar in the chamber on December 5. The Supreme Court authorities installed closed circuit camera on the court premises and the police checked everyone before they entered there.
The pro-BNP lawyers also shouted slogans demanding release of the party chief. On the other hand, lawyers lenient to ruling Awami League party were also chanted slogans in a bid to challenge their opponents.
The defence lawyers said the senior counsels will sit to decide the next course of actions after they get the certified copy of Thursday’s order.
In the evening, the senior leaders of the BNP decided at a meeting in Dhaka that the party will stage demonstration across Bangladesh on Sunday to demand release of the former prime minister.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the secretary general of the party, announced the programme in Dhaka’s Gulshan after the meeting.