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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Khaleda's bail upheld

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The Supreme Court yesterday upheld bail to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a corruption case in which she has been serving a five-year jail sentence.

Lawyers from both the sides, however, said the former prime minister will not be released from jail immediately, as she is named as an arrestee in several other cases.

The four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain dismissed the appeals filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the government challenging the High Court's bail to Khaleda.

The SC, however, directed the HC bench, led by Justice Enayetur Rahim, to hear and dispose the appeal that sought to overturn Khaleda's conviction and a five-year jail term in the Zia Orphanage Trust case by July 31. Right after the pronouncement of the SC verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam in his reaction said, "If a person secures bail in one case out of five then he or she has to remain behind bars until securing bail in all the remaining cases."

Asked in how many cases Khaleda was arrested, he said, "I don't know about it....the Ministry of Home Affairs can say better."

BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed said, "Khaleda Zia won't be released from jail now as she will have to take bail in six more cases. We'll try to get the bail in the cases as early as possible. It would be easy to secure bail from the lower courts since the Appellate Division upheld the High Court's bail."

He said Khaleda was shown arrested in the cases filed with different police stations in Cumilla, Dhaka, Narail and Panchagarh.

Moudud, also a former law minister, feared that the government may try to prolong Khaleda's stay in jail by resorting to various tricks. "So, she'll have to stay in jail until she gets bail in the cases she was shown arrested."

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told reporters that the SC has ordered the HC to settle the appeal by July 31. "We must follow the order. We'll request the court that we are getting ready to begin hearing the appeal."

BNP's Legal Affairs Secretary Kayser Kamal said Khaleda Zia is facing 36 cases and has been summoned to appear on Jun 7 in two cases now proceeding in a Comilla court.

The HC on March 12 granted an interim bail to Khaleda who was jailed for embezzling funds meant for orphans on February 8 and since then the BNP chief has been in the old jailhouse on Nazimuddin Road.

On March 19, the Appellate Division stayed Khaleda's bail until May 8 in the graft case in which she was convicted by the lower court.Hours after SC order yesterday, the BNP chief's another lawyer AJ Mohammad Ali moved to the court seeking a short order on the bail.

However, the court turned down his prayer saying there is no legal scope of giving such a short order.After hearing arguments on Tuesday, the Appellate Division set yesterday to deliver its order on the two petitions challenging the bail.Earlier on Tuesday morning, the Attorney General appealed to the court for holding more arguments in the case.

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