Bangladesh on Wednesday released jailed former prime minister and main opposition leader Khaleda Zia for 6 months on condition that she would occupy home, amid the coronavirus outbreak within the country.
The 74-year-old opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 17-year sentence in two graft cases since February 8, 2018.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Zia was freed conditionally on humanitarian grounds after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina''s approval.
Wearing a mask and clad during a black saree, Zia came out of the jail during a wheelchair. She was flanked by her supporters and party workers. She rode a car to her range in Dhaka''s posh Gulshan colony.
Earlier, Kamal said required procedures were completed for her release for 6 months under her younger brother Shamim Iskandar''s custody on two conditions requiring her to remain at her residence during the amount and she or he couldn't leave the country.
Kamal said Zia wouldn't be ready to participate in any political activity during the amount .
On Tuesday, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the BNP chief the choice to free Zia was taken in line with Prime Minister Hasina’s directives and considering the age of the previous prime minister.
"...Zia are going to be released for a period of six months and she or he must stay in her own house," the minister said.
Senior party leaders including BNP’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir et al. were seen struggling to stay away the party activists in sight of the Covid-19 outbreak, saying the social distancing was crucial for his or her 74-year-old ailing leader.
Kamal said Hasina decided to free her for 6 months as Zia’s brother Eskandar and sister Selima Rahman recently met the premier with an appeal for the BNP leader''s release.
Zia served thrice because the premier since 1991. Her party suffered a miserable defeat within the 2018 elections bagging only six seats in 300-seat parliament.
Her conviction on "moral turpitude" charges debarred her from contesting the polls.
She was sent to jail in February 2018 by an area court on charges of embezzling foreign donations meant for an orphanage, named after her slain husband and president Ziaur Rehman, during her premiership between 2001 and 2006.
Rehman, a military ruler-turned-politician, was the founding father of the BNP.
She was convicted in another corruption case later an equivalent year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.