Bangladesh releases Khaleda Zia from jail amid coronavirus outbreak

The 74-year-old opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 17-year prison term in two graft cases since February 8, 2018.

Updated - December 03, 2021 06:42 am IST

Published - March 25, 2020 04:33 pm IST - Dhaka

In this December 28, 2017, file photo, Bangladesh's former Prime Minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, leaves after a court appearance in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In this December 28, 2017, file photo, Bangladesh's former Prime Minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, leaves after a court appearance in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Bangladesh on Wednesday released jailed former Prime Minister and main Opposition leader Khaleda Zia for six months amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The 74-year-old opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 17-year prison term in two graft cases since February 8, 2018.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Ms. Zia was freed conditionally on Wednesday afternoon on humanitarian grounds after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval.

Ms. Zia served thrice as the premier since 1991. Her party suffered a miserable defeat in the 2018 elections bagging only six seats in the 300-seat Parliament.

Her conviction on “moral turpitude” charges debarred her from contesting the polls.

She was sent to jail in February 2018 by a local court on charges of embezzling foreign donations meant for an orphanage, named after her slain husband and president Zia Ur Rehman, during her premiership between 2001 and 2006.

Rehman, a military ruler-turned-politician, was the founder of the BNP.

She was convicted in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.

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