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COVID-19: Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia Freed from Prison, Quarantines at Home

The Bangladesh government has conditionally released former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and suspended her sentence for six months, as the country goes all out in its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report on Thursday.

After serving 25 months for corruption cases, she was released through executive orders from the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on Wednesday evening, reports bdnews24.

a close up of Khaleda Zia in glasses looking at the camera: COVID-19: Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia freed from prison, quarantines at home© Provided by The Statesman COVID-19: Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia freed from prison, quarantines at home

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supremo was driven to her residence in the capital city’s Gulshan area, as scores of supporters crowded her path and shouted slogans.

Earlier on Thursday, the Home ministry had sent an order for Khaleda’s release to the prison authorities, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave the go-ahead.

Last month, Khaleda Zia had completed two years in prison, members and activists of her Bangladesh National Party (BNP) were losing hope of her release through legal and political means.

On Wednesday, Bangladesh announced a stimulus package of 50 billion taka ($5.9 million) to help export-oriented industries to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic at home and abroad.

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Following the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Bangladeshi government declared a public holiday from March 26 to April 4 except for entities providing essential services.

Zia was jailed for 17 years on February 8, 2018, in two corruption cases, has been receiving treatment at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University since last April.

Last year, in December, Bangladesh court rejected the bail petition of Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia in connection with the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.

In 2018, Khaleda was convicted and jailed by a special court in Dhaka in connection with the graft case.

Khaleda Zia’s party had boycotted the 2014 general elections giving an easy victory to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League. The verdict disqualifies Khaleda Zia for this year’s elections.

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