Bangladesh opposition leader Zia returns to jail

Bangladesh’s main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, looks on as she is escorted back to prison from a hospital visit on Thursday, November 8. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Bangladesh opposition leader Zia returns to jail

  • Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al-Harun said Khaleda Zia had been cleared to go back to Dhaka Central Jail
  • Her doctors say Zia cannot use her left hand because of severe arthritis
DHAKA: Bangladesh authorities on Thursday sent opposition leader Khaleda Zia back to jail after a month of treatment in hospital, an official said.
The move came just ahead of the official announcement of the date of a general election which the 73-year-old Zia will almost certainly be excluded from because of the prison terms she is serving.
Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah al Harun told reporters Zia had been cleared to go back to Dhaka Central Jail. “Her health has been in adequately stable condition.”
One of her aides, Zahid Hossain, alleged however that Zia’s doctors had not approved her return to jail.
Zia’s lawyers have previously accused the government of putting the health of the two-time former prime minister at risk by refusing her specialized care in prison.
Zia was jailed for five years in February for corruption and has since been held at the British colonial-era prison which was abandoned in 2016 but brought back into service to keep her.
She was taken to hospital last month when her condition deteriorated.
Her doctors say Zia cannot use her left hand because of severe arthritis. She is diabetic and also has problems with her neck and shoulder.
During her time in hospital, Zia was sentenced to seven years in jail in a new graft case while an appeal court doubled the term from the original case to 10 years.
Zia is now running out of time to make an appeal that could clear her to run in the election expected at the end of December.
Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party has condemned the cases as politically motivated to keep her out of an election showdown with current prime minister and arch-rival Sheikh Hasina.
BNP officials held talks with Hasina on their election demands which included releasing the party leader. Hasina rejected the demand.
The BNP boycotted the 2014 vote in which Hasina returned to power but is expected to contest the election this year.


UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle'

Updated 3 min 42 sec ago
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UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle'

LONDON: The mother of one of the British Daesh militants suspected of murdering western hostages, lost a legal challenge on Friday that it was wrong for Britain to assist a US investigation which could lead to them facing the death penalty.
Britons El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey — two of a notorious group of British fighters nicknamed “The Beatles” — are being held by Kurdish militia after being captured in Syria last year.
The United States wants to extradite them and Britain has said it will not stand in the way of any future US prosecution that would seek the death penalty, waiving a long-standing objection to executions.
Elsheikh’s mother, Maha El Gizouli, had sought a judicial review, saying it was unlawful for Britain’s interior minister to provide mutual legal assistance in a case which could lead to prosecutions for offenses which carried the death penalty.
Her lawyers said the minister’s actions were flawed, inconsistent with Britain’s unequivocal opposition to the death penalty and violated her son’s human rights. However, London’s High Court disagreed and dismissed her claim.
“My priority has always been to ensure we deliver justice for the victims’ families and that the individuals suspected of these sickening crimes face prosecution as quickly as possible,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said.
“Our long-standing opposition to the death penalty has not changed. Any evidence shared with the US in this case must be for the express purpose of progressing a federal prosecution.”
The most notorious of the four of the so-called Beatles was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.
He became a public face of Daesh and appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
“This group of terrorists is associated with some of the most barbaric crimes committed during the conflict in Syria,” Graeme Biggar, Director of National Security at Britain’s interior ministry, said in a written statement to the court.
Britain has said it does not want the men repatriated to the United Kingdom and their British citizenship has been withdrawn.
British prosecutors concluded they did not have the evidence to launch their own case against the men but US officials then expressed frustration with the British stance of seeking an assurance that US prosecutors would not call for the death penalty, court documents showed.
However, last June, British ministers and senior officials decided the best way of ensuring a prosecution and to protect US relations was to seek no such assurance in this case.
That decision provoked criticism from opposition lawmakers and from some in the government’s own party who accused ministers of secretly abandoning Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.