DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Monday halted the release of opposition leader Khaleda Zia on bail, deepening a political crisis ahead of a national election due in December.
The top justices suspended a lower court’s decision to grant Khaleda Zia bail until May, prompting a sharp reaction from her lawyers who said it was part of a campaign by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to silence the opposition.
“It is an unprecedented order in the judicial history of Bangladesh. We think it is not the decision of the top court, rather it is a government decision,” one of Khaleda Zia’s lawyers, Sanaullah Mia, said.
Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said the order was a “reflection” of the government’s desire to keep Khaleda Zia confined during the election, which is widely expected to be held in December.
“We’ve repeatedly said people are not getting justice in the country and the judiciary is controlled by the government,” Alamgir said.
The 72-year-old BNP leader was jailed for five years last month on charges of embezzling money intended for an orphanage.
The three times former prime minister, now being held in a special jail, has consistently dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2018