Jailed Bangladesh ex-PM Khaleda Zia ‘can’t use left hand’ — doctor

Bangladesh’s main opposition leader Khaleda Zia, center, is escorted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka following a court order in response to her deteriorating health. (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018
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Jailed Bangladesh ex-PM Khaleda Zia ‘can’t use left hand’ — doctor

  • Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia was jailed in February for corruption
  • She was found guilty of embezzling money intended for an orphanage

DHAKA: Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia, transferred to hospital last weekend from the 19th-century jail where she is the only prisoner, can no longer use her left hand, her doctor said on Tuesday.
Zia, 73, was jailed in February for corruption and has been on trial in a special room in the abandoned Dhaka Central Jail on additional graft charges that her supporters say are politically motivated.
On Saturday Zia, a long rival to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was transferred to hospital because of poor health following an order from the South Asian country’s High Court.
“Her symptoms have worsened in the last few months,” Abdul Jalil Chowdhury, one of the physicians at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) hospital who has since examined her, said.
“She has developed deformity of left hand in the last few months due to long standing rheumatoid arthritis. She can’t use her left hand,” he said.
“In addition, she has developed left frozen shoulder,” he said, adding Zia was also suffering from neck and back pain and she is a diabetic.
Lawyers for Zia, prime minister from 1991-1996 and 2001-2006, had argued that the government was putting her health at risk by refusing her specialized care in prison.
When Zia — who leads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party — was jailed in February for corruption, the sentence triggered clashes between police and thousands of BNP supporters.
She was found guilty of embezzling money intended for an orphanage.
Zia is appealing against the verdict — which bars her from standing in the general election set for December — and was granted bail earlier this year.
However, she remains in custody while she fights dozens of other violence and graft charges.
Last month the authorities turned a room of the jail into a court — a move her lawyers said was illegal.
Zia already 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.
Her party boycotted the 2014 election in which Hasina returned to power but is expected to contest the election due in December.


Venezuela ‘on alert,’ closes Curacao border ahead of aid shipment

Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez attends a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, February 19, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 min 8 sec ago
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Venezuela ‘on alert,’ closes Curacao border ahead of aid shipment

  • Despite sitting on the world’s biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is gripped by a humanitarian crisis, with a shortage of food and medicine

CARACAS: Venezuela’s military said Tuesday it was on “alert” at its frontiers following threats by US President Donald Trump and ordered its border with Curacao closed ahead of a planned aid shipment.
Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido vowed to bring aid in from various points Saturday “one way or another” despite military efforts to block it.
But commanders doubled down on their allegiance to President Nicolas Maduro after Trump warned them to abandon him.
“The armed forces will remain deployed and on alert along the borders... to avoid any violations of territorial integrity,” said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
Regional commander Vladimir Quintero later confirmed media reports that Venezuela had ordered the suspension of air and sea links with Curacao and the neighboring Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba and Bonaire.
Shipments of food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering in the country’s economic crisis have become a focus of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.
Aid is being stored in Colombia near the Venezuelan border and Guaido aims also to bring in consignments via Brazil and Curacao.
A Brazilian presidential spokesman said the country was cooperating with the United States to supply aid to Venezuela but would leave it to Venezuelans to take the goods over the border.
Maduro says the aid plan is a smokescreen for a US invasion. He blames US sanctions and “economic war” for Venezuela’s crisis.

Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the Venezuelan legislature, has appealed to military leaders to switch allegiance to him and let the aid through.
He has offered military commanders an amnesty if they abandon Maduro.
But the military high command has so far maintained its public backing for Maduro — seen as key to keeping him in power.
“We reiterate unrestrictedly our obedience, subordination and loyalty” to Maduro, Padrino said.
Guaido posted a series of tweets calling by name on senior military leaders commanding border posts to abandon Maduro.
He has branded Maduro illegitimate, saying the elections that returned the socialist leader to power last year were fixed.
The United States and some 50 other countries back Guaido as interim president.
Trump has refused to rule out US military action in Venezuela. He raised the pressure on Monday, issuing a warning to the Venezuelan military.
He told them that if they continue to support Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”
Padrino rejected Trump’s threat, branding the US president “arrogant.”
If foreign powers try to help install a new government by force, they will have to do so “over our dead bodies,” Padrino said.

Despite sitting on the world’s biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is gripped by a humanitarian crisis, with a shortage of food and medicine.
It has suffered four years of recession marked by hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund says will reach 10 million percent this year.
An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015.
Guaido says 300,000 people face death without the aid but Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis.
Padrino said the military would not be “blackmailed” by “a pack of lies and manipulations.”
Maduro said that 300 tons of Russian aid would reach Venezuela on Wednesday. He previously announced the arrival of goods from China, Cuba and Russia, his main international allies.
In a series of tweets, Guaido urged supporters to write to the generals “from the heart, with arguments, without violence, without insults,” to win them over.

Guaido says he has enlisted the support of 700,000 people to help bring in the aid on Saturday and is aiming for a million in total.
He thanked Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain for pledging “more than $18 million for the humanitarian aid.”
British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he will hold a pro-aid concert just over the border in Colombia on Friday.
British rock star Peter Gabriel and Colombian pop singer Carlos Vives are among those scheduled to perform.
Former Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters weighed in on Maduro’s side in a video broadcast on Venezuelan state media, criticizing Branson and Gabriel and said the aid was being politicized.
Maduro’s government plans to stage a rival concert on its side of the border.