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World

May 17, 2018

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Zia granted bail

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s 72-year-old opposition leader Khaleda Zia was granted bail on corruption charges on Wednesday after her lawyers argued her health was at risk, paving the way for her to be released from jail.

Zia was imprisoned in February after being accused of embezzling money intended for an orphanage, an allegation she said was politically motivated. Bangladesh has for years been locked in an epic showdown between Zia, who has served as prime minister three times, and her arch-rival, current leader Sheikh Hasina. In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to grant Zia bail while she appeals against the five-year jail term, her lawyer Joynal Abedin told AFP.

She faces several other charges and it was not immediately clear when she would be released from the special jail in the capital Dhaka where she is the sole inmate. Zia’s lawyers said they told the court that she faced serious health risks if kept in prison and that she would be treated at a top private hospital once she is released.

"She has become very sick due to long solitary confinement," Abedin said, adding that Zia suffers from a neurological problem, arthritis and night-time fever. The Supreme Court had earlier suspended the lower court’s decision to grant Zia bail, prompting her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to condemn the move as part of a campaign by Hasina to silence the opposition ahead of looming national elections.

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