Ex-Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia gets bail in defamation case

Dhaka, Bangladesh Published: Aug 14, 2018, 08:45 AM(IST)

(File photo) former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. Photograph:( ANI )

Bangladesh's High Court today granted six-month bail to imprisoned former prime minister Khaleda Zia in a defamation case over her "derogatory remarks" about the 1971 Liberation War and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country's first post-independence president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's father, 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.

In 2015, a defamation case was registered in Narail against Zia after she raised questions about the number of martyrs in the 1971 Liberation War during a discussion at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh, Dhaka Tribune reported.

She said: "There are controversies about how many were martyred in the Liberation War. There are also many books and documents about the controversies."

The bench of Justice Muhammad Abdul Hafiz and Justice Kashefa Hussain passed the order, granting her six-month bail, after hearing a petition filed by Zia's counsel, the report said.

Earlier on August 5, a Narail court rejected her bail petition.

According to the case, she had used "derogatory remarks" about freedom fighters and Bangabandhu, the country's first post-independence president and Hasina's father.

She had alleged that the Awami League had not wanted freedom in 1971 but instead was looking for power.

"He (Bangabandhu) wanted to be the prime minister of Pakistan, he did not want an independent Bangladesh," she had said.

Bangabandhu is known as the Father of the Nation.

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.

She is lodged in a 200-year-old prison in Dhaka since then.

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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