Khaleda Zia to be tried for graft in a new, makeshift court

Last month, she was moved to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for treatment after spending more than a year in the Dhaka's century-old jail, where she was the only prisoner

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Khaleda Zia

Dhaka: The Bangladesh government, citing security reasons has set up a new makeshift court adjacent to a prison outside Dhaka to try ailing former prime minister Khaleda Zia, serving a 10-year jail term in two graft cases.

Zia, 73, was sent to jail in February last year by a local court on charges of embezzling foreign donations meant for an orphanage, named after her slain husband and president Ziaur Rehman, during her premiership between 2001 and 2006.

Rehman was the founder of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Last month, she was moved to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for treatment after spending more than a year in the Dhaka’s century-old jail, where she was the only prisoner.

“The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has issued a notice for transferring the trial court,” Zia’s lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kazol was quoted as saying by the bdnews24.com on Monday.

Earlier, a temporary court was set up near the old jail in the Dhaka’s Nazimuddin, said Kazol, an anti-Corruption Commission lawyer.

Zia facing several other pending criminal and graft charges as well and legal process are underway to initiate her trial in those cases as well.

“A makeshift court would be set up in front of the new building of the Central jail in the Keraniganj, on outskirts of Dhaka for security reasons,” he said, adding all her 17 cases would be shifted to the new court.

Apart from graft cases, the temporary court will hear eight cases of sabotage initiated by the capital’s Dar us Salam Police, a case over an arson attack on a bus in Jatrabari, and three defamation suits, he said.

Khaleda Zia served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996, and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first woman in the country’s history and second in the Muslim majority countries to head a democratic government as prime minister.