Dhaka, Bangladesh
Khaleda released thru suspending jail sentences

Finally a breath of fresh air

Khaleda released thru suspending jail sentences

Corona pandemic exigency prompts her freedom

News Report Jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia Wednesday drove home at the head of a huge crowd of her followers following freedom on government order suspending her convictions, amid a worldwide health emergency. The government order came Tuesday, a day after her BNP party and family members once more made a plea for setting her free 'on humanitarian grounds' in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that is forcing lockdown across the globe. Bangladesh is also coming under a shutdown from March 26 as the country, too, counts rising incidences of death and infection from the virus. And the process of countrywide 'lockdown' already began. "She is being released through legal process on condition that she will take treatment from home and that she won't go abroad," Law Minister Anisul Huq told reporters after the release order on order from the prime minister was sent from his ministry. Party leaders and workers thronged the outside of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) wherein she had been under treatment at since April 1, 2019 to receive her. But the process was not complete. They again crowded there and chanted slogans as she came out on Wednesday afternoon to take a breath of fresh air after over two years. The law minister said the BNP chief's sentences have been suspended as per provision of section 401 (1) of the Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPcC). Meanwhile, 'Firoza', the luxury home of Khaleda at Road No 79 in Dhaka's Gulshan area which turned into an abandoned house since she went to jail, has been prepared for her comfortable stay there. Khaleda Zia's family recently submitted an application to the government seeking an executive order to have the BNP chief released for her treatment in London. Her brother Shamim Eskandar, sister Selima Islam and her (Selima's) husband Dr Rafiqul Islam had appealed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her release by executive order. Meanwhile, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said Khaleda's personal doctors would provide her treatment at her residence. "We're contacting her personal doctors and taking steps to ensure her treatment at her residence." He also said it depends on Khaleda's decision whether she will receive treatment at her residence or any hospital. Khaleda has been in jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018. Her five-year jail sentence was later doubled in appeal verdict. She was found guilty in another corruption case---Zia Charitable Trust case---later the same year. Her party, however, claims both the cases are 'politically motivated'. When all avenues for release of the jailed former prime minister and BNP chairperson on bail got exhausted, after apex-court rejection, a legal byway opened for freeing her. Remission or suspension of a convicted person on plausible reasons is provided for in section 401(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Senior lawyers from both sides and the law minister were earlier in agreement on this legal provision. (Inputs taken from media reports, agencies)

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