Bangladesh court orders release of opposition leader Zia

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to grant opposition leader Khaleda Zia bail while she appeals against a five-year jail term imposed in February for corruption. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Bangladesh court orders release of opposition leader Zia

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release from detention of 72-year-old opposition leader Khaleda Zia after her lawyers argued she was unwell.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to grant Zia bail while she appeals against a five-year jail term imposed in February for corruption, her lawyer Joynal Abedin said.
Zia’s lawyers said they told the court that the three-time former prime minister, the arch-rival of current leader Sheikh Hasina, faced serious health risks if kept in prison.
Zia underwent a hospital check-up last month.
The Supreme Court had earlier suspended the lower court’s decision to grant Zia bail, prompting her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to condemn the move as part of a campaign by Hasina to silence the opposition ahead of a looming national election.
It was not immediately clear, however, when Zia would be released from the special prison in Dhaka where she is the only inmate.
Abedin said Zia was officially considered under arrest in five other cases and she needs to get bail for each one, which may take days or weeks.
“We hope she will be released shortly,” Abedin said.
Zia also faces dozens of separate charges related to violence and corruption.
The BNP leader was jailed for five years in February on charges of embezzling money intended for an orphanage.
Zia, who entered politics in the 1980s after her military dictator husband was assassinated in a failed coup, has consistently dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
Her party boycotted a 2014 national election in which Hasina was re-elected but is expected to contest the new polls due in December.


India to put former top climate change official on trial for sexual harassment

Updated 10 min 23 sec ago
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India to put former top climate change official on trial for sexual harassment

  • Pachauri is accused of making physical advances, wrongful restraint, sending unwanted emails, and messages.
  • Pachauri denies the charges and has sought a speedy trial due to his old age, his counsel Ashish Dikshit told Reuters.

NEW DELHI: An Indian court has ordered the trial of sexual harassment charges against one of world’s leading climate change experts, Rajendra K. Pachauri, his lawyer said on Saturday.
The 78-year-old Pachauri, who had previously chaired the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had stepped down from the panel in 2015 following a sexual harassment complaint by a researcher at Pachauri’s Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
Pachauri denies the charges and has sought a speedy trial due to his old age, his counsel Ashish Dikshit told Reuters.
Pachauri is accused of making physical advances, wrongful restraint, sending unwanted emails, and messages. He goes on trial just as the #MeToo movement sweeps India with a large number of women accusing public figures in the media and entertainment industry of sexual misconduct. A junior government minister resigned last week after women accused him of making physical advances in hotel rooms and in the office during his previous career as a journalist.
India is also considering tightening sexual harassment laws, government officials told Reuters last week.
The Delhi court has charged Pachauri under sections of the Indian Penal code including sexual harrassment and outraging the modesty of a woman.
The trial begins on Jan. 4, his counsel said.