Khaleda Zia cannot travel abroad due to legal bar

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The BNP chief is undergoing treatment at a Dhaka hospital with post-Covid complications

The Law Ministry has rejected the plea seeking the government’s permission to take BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia abroad for receiving advanced treatment.

“There is no provision that permits a convict to go abroad for treatment,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said at a news briefing on Sunday.

“It is not possible [for us] to do anything outside the law,” he said.

The minister also said: “The Law Ministry has informed us that Khaleda Zia cannot go abroad unless her sentences are commuted. In light of such an opinion, the application of Khaleda Zia’s family could not be granted.”

In March last year, Khaleda was released after the government suspended her sentences and verdict in a corruption case through an executive order under two conditions – she would have to take treatment at her Gulshan residence and that she cannot travel abroad.

“The provision, under which her sentences were suspended for treatment, cannot be revised again for her travel abroad,” the home minister said.
Law Minister Anisul Huq earlier said: “Begum Khaleda Zia’s sentence and verdict were suspended under Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Here two specific conditions were imposed.”

On May 5, Khaleda’s younger brother Shamim Iskander met the home minister at his Dhanmondi residence and submitted the application. The home minister then sent the application to the Law Ministry for consideration.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also met the home minister, on May 3, and discussed about the matter.

Meanwhile, Awami League Joint General Secretary Hasan Mahmud has labelled as politically-motivated the attempts to take Khaleda abroad. At a virtual meeting on Sunday, he alleged that the application was submitted at a time “when she is recovering quickly”.

The 76-year-old politician tested positive for Covid-19 twice in a month – on April 10 and April 24. Her blood report and CT scan results were normal.

She was moved to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Evercare Hospital on April 28 after complaining of breathing issues. Her shortness of breath was caused by excess fluid accumulating in her lungs, according to her personal doctors.

Khaleda tested negative for Covid-19 on Saturday, 27 days after she contracted the deadly virus but she is yet to be free of health risks, her doctors say.

Khaleda’s release

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the government freed Khaleda Zia from jail for six months through an executive order, suspending her sentences on March 25 last year.

She was released from the prison cell of BSMMU the same day and has been staying at her Gulshan residence since then.

On August 27 last year, the government extended her release for six more months. It was extended again for another six months on March 15.

It may be recalled that on February 8, 2018, Khaleda Zia was lodged in the Old Dhaka Central Jail after a lower court sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. The High Court later doubled her jail term.

The former prime minister was found guilty in another corruption case the same year.

The BNP maintains that both the cases are politically motivated.

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