Bangladesh releases ex-PM Khaleda Zia from jail amid coronavirus outbreak; 74-yr-old was serving time in graft cases

Bangladesh releases ex-PM Khaleda Zia from jail amid coronavirus outbreak; 74-yr-old was serving time in graft cases

Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday released jailed former prime minister and main opposition leader Khaleda Zia for six months amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

File image of Khaleda Zia. Reuters

The 74-year-old opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 17-year prison term in two graft cases since 8 February, 2018.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Zia was freed conditionally on Wednesday afternoon on humanitarian grounds after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's approval.

Zia served thrice as the premier since 1991. Her party suffered a miserable defeat in the 2018 elections bagging only six seats in 300-seat parliament.

Her conviction on "moral turpitude" charges debarred her from contesting the polls.

She was sent to jail in February 2018 by a local court on charges of embezzling foreign donations meant for an orphanage, named after her slain husband and president Ziaur Rehman, during her premiership between 2001 and 2006.

Rehman, a military ruler-turned-politician, was the founder of the BNP.

She was convicted in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.