Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia hospitalised

She was sentenced last year to a decade in prison on corruption charges

Afp April 01, 2019
Bangladesh ex prime minister Khalida Zia.PHOTO: AFP/FILE

DHAKA: Bangladesh's jailed opposition leader Khaleda Zia was taken to hospital in Dhaka on Monday for tests, said her lawyer, who described the two-time former prime minister as "deteriorating day by day".

Zia, a chief rival of Bangladesh's premier Sheikh Hasina, was sentenced last year to a decade in prison on corruption charges her supporters say are politically motivated.

The 73-year-old, who is diabetic and suffers from arthritis, was also hospitalised in October for treatment.

Her lawyer, Masud Ahmed Talukder, said her condition had worsened inside the 19th-century prison where she is the sole inmate.

"She is extremely ill. Her condition is deteriorating day by day," her lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder said.

"That's why the authorities decided to admit her to hospital."

Zia, clad in sunglasses and a pink head scarf, was transferred to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University under heavy police guard and taken by wheelchair into the facility.

The hospital's director, Brigadier General Mahbubul Haq, said Zia was admitted in a weak condition and would undergo tests and treatment.

Her supporters say the government was putting her welfare at risk housing her in Dhaka Central Jail, a formerly abandoned prison where she was sentenced by a special court for graft.

Zia leads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition party whose supporters and candidates were harassed and detained by security forces ahead of a national election in December.
Hasina won that poll in a landslide, taking 288 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

The BNP won just seven in the election marred by deadly violence and claims of widespread rigging.

Hasina -- an erstwhile ally of Zia, before the powerful women fell out -- insists she won fairly.

Zia was found guilty in February 2018 of embezzling money intended for an orphange, a charge her outraged supporters marched against in the street.

The sentence was later doubled by the High Court.

Zia is appealing the verdict which prevented her from running against Hasina in the election. She is also fighting dozens of other violence and graft related charges.

A widow of a military dictator who ruled Bangladesh in the late 1970s, Zia was prime minister from 1991-1996 and again in 2001-2006.

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