Press Trust of india

No relief on cards for ex-PM Zia as Bangla SC extends stay on bail

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Dhaka, Jul 2 :  Bangladesh’s Supreme Court today upheld its order that stayed the bail granted by the High Court to former prime minister Khaleda Zia in a 2015 murder case, dealing a blow to the imprisoned leader.

The decision means that the 72-year-old three-time former premier and opposition leader will have to stay in jail for at least another month, even if she secures bail in other cases, bdnews24 reported.

Zia, the chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was jailed for five years in February 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.

A four-member appellate bench led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain upheld the stay on the High Court decision granting Zia bail in the Cumilla murder case over the firebombing of a bus in February, 2015, the report said.

The apex court also asked the High Court to hear and dispose of the case over the bail in four weeks.

Eight people were killed in the bomb attack during the BNP-Jamaat alliance’s protests. Two separate cases including one for murder were filed over the incident.

After the 2015 incident, a warrant was issued for Zia’s arrest after police filed the chargesheet in the two cases.

The Cumilla Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court then ordered Zia to be brought for a hearing on March 26. She is yet to be brought to court due to her illness.

Zia’s imprisonment has led to a question mark over the BNP’s participation in the elections in December as the party said it would not take part in the polls without her.

The BNP-led four-party alliance, with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being a crucial partner, boycotted the last elections in 2014, protesting against prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s scrapping of the practice of having a caretaker government oversee elections.

The BNP had termed the elections as “farcical”.

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