Bangladesh’s ex-premier and opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia on Monday received a temporary relief after a top court granted her a four month bail in a corruption case, a month after being sentenced to five years in jail. Zia, 72, was sentenced to five years in jail on February 8 in connection with the embezzlement of 21 million taka (about USD 250,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust, named after her late husband Ziaur Rahman, a military ruler-turned-politician.
The High Court in Dhaka today granted her a four-month interim bail. “The bench granted her bail for four months and simultaneously ordered authorities to prepare arguments on her appeal against the conviction and imprisonment,” a court official said.
The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim said it considered Zia’s age factor as one of the reasons for granting the bail, the official said. Court officials said the bail was granted after reviewing the case documents received from the trial court.
The bench, however, stayed the fine of Taka 2.10 crore slapped on Zia.
The February 8 verdict against Zia shook the country’s political scenario ahead of this year’s general elections. The BNP has claimed that the cases are politically-motivated to keep its party chief out of the national elections. Law Minister Anisul Huq told newsmen that the High Court order today proved the government had no interference in the case.
The corruption case is one of dozens pending against Zia, who has been a rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for decades. The charges against her had already led to her boycotting polls in 2014, which triggered widespread protests at the time.