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Former Bangladesh PM Zia critical, not able to walk on her own: BNP leader

PTI | Dhaka |

Bangladesh’s imprisoned former prime minister Khaleda Zia is critically ill and not able to walk on her own, a senior leader of the main opposition BNP has said.

The 72-year-old three-time former premier 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.

Khaleda used to walk to the family members whenever they visited her at the jail but now she is critically ill, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

He urged the government to let her take treatment according to her wish and take proper measures in this regard.

Fakhrul, quoting the relatives of Zia’s relatives, claimed that she is not able to even walk on her own.

She is lodged at a 200-year-old prison in Dhaka for the last four months.

Last Month, Zia was granted bail by the Supreme Court which upheld a high court order in her favour considering her old age and health issues.

Her lawyers, however, said that the verdict was unlikely to bring her out of prison as her bail pleas in at least five similar cases were pending.

Zia’s imprisonment has led to a question mark over the BNP’s participation in the elections in December this year 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”.