DHAKA: Amid coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh, the country on Tuesday initiated a process to “conditionally” release jailed former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia for six months, Law Minister Anisul Huq told a news agency.
“The decision has been taken on humanitarian ground,” said law minister Huq.
Khaleda Zia, a 74-year-old opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief, is serving a 17-year prison term in two graft cases since February 8, 2018.
Considering the age of the former prime minister, the decision to release was taken in line with Prime Minister Shekh Hasina’s directives, said Huq.
“…Zia will be released for a period of six months and she must stay in her own house,” the minister said.
The move comes a day after the family of Khaleda’s sought her release in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
“I thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Zia’s younger sister Selima Islam said.
Khaleda Zia served three times as the premier since 1991. However in 2018 elections, her party suffered a miserable defeat, bagging only 6 seats in 300-seat parliament.
In February 2018, Zia was sent to jail on charged of embezzling foreign donations meant for an orphanage, named after her slain husband and President Ziaur Rehman, during her premiership between 2001 and 2006.
Later that year, Zia was convicted in another corruption case. But her party claims that both the cases are politically motivated.