‘Khaleda doesn’t want to seek parole’


Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders and lawyers are divided over the process to get their ailing chairperson Khaleda Zia out of jail as her parole has been the talk of the town.

A number of BNP leaders say they want to follow legal procedures to free the former prime minister, who has been in jail since 8 February, 2018. Another group insists that having her released on parole and sending her abroad for treatment is the best option right now as her health condition is gradually deteriorating.

But Khaleda, known to her supporters and admirers as an ‘uncompromising leader’, is unwilling to seek parole and go abroad, a BNP standing committee member told UNB wishing anonymity.

He also said the BNP chief’s family is worried about her deteriorating health condition and they want the party leaders to work together for her release either on bail or on parole.

Family members and party senior leaders may try to meet Khaleda, now undergoing treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), soon and take her opinion and convince her to go abroad.

Another BNP leader said negotiations are going on behind the scene between the party leaders and the government over the issue.

He said the government may agree to release Khaleda on parole only if BNP ensures that its six MPs-elect will join parliament.

The BNP leader said the government and the BNP leaders must reach an understanding by 30 April as it is the last date for the MPs-elect to be sworn in to protect their parliament membership.

According to Khaleda’s lawyers, she was convicted in two cases, among the 36 ones, filed against her.

To ensure her release through the legal process, they said, Khaleda will have to get bail in Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust graft cases and two other defamation cases.

The government has apparently given a positive signal about her release on parole as home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Saturday said they would consider releasing Khaleda on parole if she files an application and cites specific reasons.

Contacted, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they never talked about their chairperson’s release on parole as she can be released on bail if the government does not interfere.

He also said their chairperson is very sick and her condition deteriorated so much that she cannot walk and eat anything properly. “Her proper treatment is not possible at BSMMU which is controlled by the government.”

Fakhrul also said the government should release Khaleda Zia without any condition to allow her to receive proper treatment.

Party standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said seeking parole completely depends on Khaleda’s decision. “She can only decide whether she’ll seek it or not. But I think she might not agree to apply for parole.”

Another party standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said Khaleda was supposed to be freed on bail in the cases filed against her much ago, but she is still in jail due to the government’s interference in the judiciary.

“As a lawyer, I can say now it’s not possible to free Khaleda Zia through the legal process without any strong movement,” he added.

BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said they still want to have Khaleda freed on bail. “But her health condition is very bad. The question of her release on parole will arise only when the physicians recommend sending her abroad for treatment. But the physicians still didn’t say anything about it.”

Dhaka University’s former vice-chancellor and pro-BNP intellectual Emajuddin Ahmed said the home minister’s remark on Khaleda’s release on parole is a positive development in politics.

He said BNP should now give priority to Khaleda’s release and her proper treatment abroad.

Two other BNP senior leaders, preferring not to be named, said BNP leaders should ensure their chairperson’s release, even if necessary on parole, to ensure her proper treatment.

On Thursday, BNP leaders had a meeting with foreign diplomats where they told the envoys that their chairperson is badly needed to go abroad for her treatment to save her life.

The BNP chief’s prime counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain said releasing Khaleda Zia on parole is a political decision. “But it’s the main question whether Khaleda Zia will apply for it or the government will accept the application. As a lawyer, I can say release on parole is possible.”

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