Press Trust of india

Bangladesh apex court upholds ex-PM Zia’s bail in arson case

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Dhaka, Aug 12: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court today upheld the High Court decision granting a six-month interim bail to imprisoned former prime minister Khaleda Zia in an arson case relating to the attack on a passenger bus in 2015, media reports said.

The 72-year-old three-time former premier, however, will have to stay in jail as other cases are pending against her.

Eight people were killed after the bus was petrol bombed in Chittagong on February 3, 2015 during protests by the Bangladesh Nationslist Party (BNP)-Jamaat alliance.

Two separate cases – one for murder, the other under the Explosives Act – were filed in Comilla against Zia, who is also the chairperson of the opposition BNP. The case was later changed to the Special Powers Act.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the High Court order granting the six-month bail to Zia, Dhaka Tribune reported.

The four-member Appellate Division bench, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the “no order” on a government petition seeking stay on the High Court order, the report said.

The High Court granted the bail to Zia on August 6 in the arson case. Next day, the state filed a petition seeking a stay on the bail order.

She has been in jail since February 8, after a special court found her guilty of corruption in the Zia Orphanage Trust case. She is lodged in a 200-year-old prison in Dhaka.

Zia 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.

The charges against her has already led to her boycotting polls in 2014, which triggered widespread protests at the time. The BNP had termed the elections as “farcical”.

The BNP has claimed that the cases against Zia are politically-motivated to keep its party chief out of the national elections scheduled for December.

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