The government has once more extended the BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's suspended sentences in two corruption cases, allowing her to avoid jail time for a further six months.
The conditions for her suspended sentences have remained unchanged – the 76-year-old ailing former prime minister will continue receiving medical treatment at her home in Dhaka and will not be allowed to travel abroad.
The Security Services Division issued the order on the extension in a notice on Sunday, home ministry spokesman Sharif Mahmud said.
A special trial court in Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to five years imprisonment in February 2017 in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The High Court increased the jail time to 10 years on Oct 30 of that year after rejecting an appeal.
The same trial court had, a day prior, sentenced her to seven years imprisonment in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
After that, the septuagenarian served her sentence at the Old Central Jail in Dhaka until the government decided to suspend her jail time on medical grounds amid the pandemic.
Khaleda was released from prison on Mar 25, 2020 by executive order and the government has already conditionally extended her time out of jail on five occasions, most recently in September 2022.
Khaleda has been living in her Gulshan residence since her release from jail. She has not visited her office near her home since her release from prison.
The BNP chairperson also refrained from issuing formal statements during this period. The party did not state any reason behind her silence in politics. She was hospitalised several times in this period.
Law Minister Anisul Huq recently clarified that the conditions did not mean Khaleda cannot take treatment at a hospital in Bangladesh.
The government, however, did not bow down to the demand of the BNP and her family to allow her to travel abroad for treatment.
Anisul also hinted that the conditions set in the executive order did not bar Khaleda from politics.
But Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader suggested Khaleda resuming political activities might indicate she was not ill.
“She was released on humanitarian grounds because she was ill. Where would she be if she was not ill? In jail,” he said.