DHAKA: Jailed Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia was admitted to hospital in Dhaka on Saturday, an official said, following a court order in response to her deteriorating health.
Former prime minister Zia, 73, was taken from the abandoned 19th-century prison where she is serving her sentence to a top medical university clinic in the heart of the capital, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
“She has been admitted to the BSMMU (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University) hospital,” director of the clinic Brigadier General Abdullah al Harun told AFP.
Al Harun said a medical board comprising specialist doctors has been constituted.
Her transfer to the hospital came just days after the country’s High Court ordered immediate hospital treatment for Zia after her lawyers said the government was putting her health at risk by refusing her specialised care.
Zia — who leads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party — was jailed in February for corruption.
Facing further charges of graft at a hearing early last month, she said she was “extremely ill” and that her arm and leg were becoming paralysed.
Her lawyer Zainal Abedin told AFP this week that Zia would be able to choose her own doctors from outside the state-run hospital.
Zia was sentenced to five years for corruption in February, triggering clashes between police and thousands of BNP supporters.
She was found guilty of embezzling money intended for an orphanage, a charge she dismissed as politically motivated.
Zia is appealing against the verdict — which bars her from standing in a December general election — and was granted bail earlier this year.
However she remains imprisoned while she fights dozens of other violence and graft charges.
A former ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina turned fierce political rival, Zia had health issues including arthritis, diabetes and knee replacements when she was sentenced.
She is the only inmate in Dhaka Central Jail, built in the 19th century under British colonial rule and declared abandoned in 2016.
Last month the authorities turned a room of the jail into a court — a move her lawyers said was illegal.
Her party boycotted the 2014 election in which Hasina returned to power but is expected to contest the election due in December. Zia was prime minister from 1991-1996 and 2001-2006.
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