Bangladesh Supreme Court stays ex-PM’s bail order

Bangladesh's former prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, leaves after a court appearance in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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Bangladesh Supreme Court stays ex-PM’s bail order

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Monday stayed the bail order of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, which was granted to her by the High Court earlier this month until May 8.
A lower court sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment on Feb. 8 for misappropriating funds for the Zia Orphanage Trust.
She appealed to the High Court, which granted her four-month interim bail because of her age and health.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the graft case against her in 2008. On March 15, the ACC and the attorney general’s office filed two leave-to-appeal petitions before the appellate division of the Supreme Court, demanding a stay on the bail order granted by the High Court.
A four-member bench of the appellate division, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, stayed the bail order.
As such, Zia will have to stay in jail until May 8, and on the same day the Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the appeal against the bail order.
“It is an undesirable decision given by the highest court of the country. We are very much upset with this unprecedented order,” said her lawyer Joinul Abedin.
“In recent times, the government has influenced the lower court’s decisions. Now it seems the higher court is also not free from government influence.”
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is led by Zia, said the ruling party is hindering the legal process to prolong her imprisonment.
The Supreme Court’s decision “reflects the government’s desire,” he said. “Zia and we have been denied justice by the country’s apex court, which is the last resort of the people.”
Political analyst Dr. Asif Nazrul said the handling of Zia’s bail has raised “strong doubts about whether this is a judicial process or political revenge.”
Nazrul said he believes it is an attempt to marginalize the BNP in the next general election, which is scheduled to take place by the end of the year.
“These things are being done to declare Zia incompetent in the next election,” he said. “I think the government will not allow her to participate. It is trying in every possible way to keep her in jail until then.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last month said the government had nothing to do with Zia’s sentence.
Hasina added that the BNP is free to boycott the next election, as it did the last one. “Elections are a democratic right of the people,” she said. “Here, we have a multi-party democracy.”


UK junior defense minister resigns, votes against government — BBC

Guto Bebb
Updated 22 min 15 sec ago
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UK junior defense minister resigns, votes against government — BBC

LONDON: British junior defense minister Guto Bebb resigned after voting against a government-backed amendment on the customs bill, part of plans for Britain’s exit from the European Union, BBC news reported on Monday.
Bebb, minister for defense procurement, voted against the amendment that will stop Britain collecting tariffs for the European Union after Brexit unless there is a reciprocal arrangement.
It was narrowly approved by parliament on Monday with the government’s support.