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Khaleda Zia released; hundreds gathered amid concern of COVID-19


Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia (R) sits in a car after being released, for medical reasons, from prison where she spent more than two years due to corruption, in Dhaka on March 25, 2020. (Photo by RUBEL RASHID/AFP via Getty Images)
Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia (R) sits in a car after being released, for medical reasons, from prison where she spent more than two years due to corruption, in Dhaka on March 25, 2020. (Photo by RUBEL RASHID/AFP via Getty Images)

THE Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia was released on Wednesday (25, 25 months after she landed in jail in a graft case.

Hundreds of leaders and activists of BNP gathered in front of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), despite the risk of spreading coronavirus.

They thronged the BSMMU premises since afternoon. Top BNP leaders including its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir repeatedly asking party men not to gather in front of the hospital as there is a risk of spreading coronavirus.

The government on Tuesday decided to release her amid health concerns, suspending her sentence for six months.

Khaleda is now receiving treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.

Khaleda, 74, who has twice been prime minister, has been in jail since she was convicted in a graft case in February 2018. Her health has been deteriorating for months and she was moved to a hospital in April last year.

The government decided to release Khaleda in response to appeals from her family, reports said.

Khaleda, who shares a long-standing rivalry with incumbent prime minister Sheikh Hasina, was later convicted in a separate graft case following her initial conviction in early 2018.

Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party says the cases were fabricated and aimed at keeping her away from politics.

She has been unable to secure bail despite repeated appeals. In February, the High Court again rejected her bail plea.