Bangladesh ex-premier won’t accept government’s conditions for release


Dhaka : Jailed former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has said she will not accept any condition, nor apply to be released from detention on charges of corruption.

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Political analysts said this was part of a stiff posture, contrasting with that of her political rival and other former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, who left for the US for medical treatment June 12.

At the same time, Zia has insisted that her two ailing, jailed sons – Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko – should be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment, citing “the same law” that was applied to Hasina.

She conveyed her desire not to “abandon my people in distress” through her lawyers during a court trial Monday, The New Nation newspaper reported.

Her stand has puzzled legal experts. Senior politician and jurist Kamal Hossain asked how she could hope to be freed if she did not apply for it.

“You want to be released, but you will not apply for it … how can this happen?” he asked at a media interaction.

Zia, 62, needs medical attention for arthritis, but says there were “good doctors” in Bangladesh and she need not leave the country, again contrasting her stand with that of Hasina.

Hasina was Tuesday due to get admitted in a clinic in Connecticut for treatment for several ailments, including fluctuating blood pressure, failing vision in one eye and a damaged ear.

Before leaving, she had spoken to Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who heads an army-backed caretaker government, paving the way for joining a political dialogue the government is conducting to prepare for the elections in December.

Her party, the Awami League, Monday sent a list of nominees who would join the talks, The Daily Star newspaper said Tuesday.

The team would be headed by Awami League’s acting chief Zillur Rahman and includes senior leaders like Abdur Razzak and Suranjit Sengupta, who had reportedly earned the disapproval of Hasina for advocating inner party democracy.

The government, under pressure at home and from the international community to hold credible elections by the end of this year, Monday said it would conduct several video conferences to gather the views of expatriates about the conduct of the polls, the New Age daily said.