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Bangladesh court orders opposition leader to receive hospital treatment

05 October 2018, MVT 20:53
A Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activist holds a placard with a picture of Khaleda Zia, the chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, during a rally in Dhaka on September 30, 2018. Thousands of Bangladeshi opposition supporters staged a rally in Dhaka for the release of their jailed leader Khaleda Zia and demanding free and fair elections.IMAGE: Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP
05 October 2018, MVT 20:53

Ailing Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia will be moved from a notorious prison to a state-run hospital, her lawyer said Friday, following a court order in response to her deteriorating health.

The High Court made the decision late Thursday after the former prime minister's lawyers said the government was putting her health at risk by refusing her specialised treatment.

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.

"The court has ordered her treatment at the (state-run) Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University hospital immediately," her lawyer Zainal Abedin told AFP.

He said there would be a shake-up of the five-member medical board in charge of Zia's treatment and she will be able to choose her own doctors from outside the state-run hospital.

"The order has been sent to the jail authorities," he said.

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 in jail 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 upcoming election due in December.

Dhaka, Bangladesh | AFP