BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will be released from jail for six months suspending her sentences upon two conditions, said Law Minister Anisul Huq on Tuesday.
He came up with the announcement at a press conference at his Gulshan office.
The conditions for her are receiving treatment staying at her Gulshan residence and not leaving the country.
The Law Minister said they took the decision at the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina considering her age and humanitarian ground.
He said Khaleda Zia’s family recently submitted an application to the government seeking an executive order to have the BNP chief released for her treatment in London.
Later, Anisul said, Khaleda’s brother Shamim Eskandar, her sister Selima Islam, and her husband Dr Rafiqul Islam met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and made an appeal for her release through the executive order.
Under the circumstances, he said, the former prime minister’s sentences have been suspended as per section 401 of Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPcC).
He said he sent his opinion about Khaleda’s release to the Home Ministry.
Anisul said the Home Ministry will now take necessary steps to release Khaleda.
He said the government’s order will come into effect when the Home Ministry releases her from jail.
The Law Minister said the government is going to release her following the legal process.
Asked how she will receive treatment at her house, he said. “It’s not been mentioned in the condition that she would not be able to receive treatment at hospital. Her admission to hospital will depend on her condition. That’s why we mentioned she’ll receive treatment at her home. But she’ll be able to go to hospital for treatment.”
He further said if Khaleda needs to go to hospital, then she will be receiving treatment at the country’s most standard hospital.
The minister said the BNP chief will not be allowed to go abroad for treatment. “Sending anyone abroad under the current situation means pushing him/her to commit suicide.”
Meanwhile, Khaleda Zia’s sister Selima Islam thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for taking a positive decision to release the BNP chief.
She said they will go to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) to bring Khaleda to her house when the government informs them about the completion of all the processes.
Selima said they will take decision about Khaleda’s treatment later in consultation with the government.
Meanwhile, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the worry of the country’s people about Khaleda’s health condition will be eased with her release from the prison.
"It (conditional release) is not comprehensible to us as her family submitted an application seeking her release and advance treatment,” he told reporter after a meeting of BNP standing committee members at the BNP chief’s Gulshan residence.
The BNP leader further said, "Nevertheless, BNP leaders and activists, the people of the country now feel comfortable as she’s going to be released as per her legal and constitutional right. We hope she can get out of jail soon.”
He called upon BNP leaders and activists not to gather at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and hold back their emotion for the safety of Khaleda and other patients at the hospital amid the spread of coronavirus in the country.
“We call upon our leaders and activists to remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid any gathering. You please play a responsible role in this regard,” the BNP leader said.
He also asked the party rank and file not to throng near Khaleda’s Gulshan residence as it may cause harm to her.
About Khaleda’s treatment, Fakhrul said her personal doctors will provide her treatment at her residence. “We’re contacting her personal doctors and taking steps to ensure her treatment at her residence.”
He also said it depends on Khaleda’s decision that whether she will receive treatment at her residence or any hospital.
Meanwhile, a source at the Home Ministry said the Law Ministry’s recommendation about the BNP chairperson’s release reached the Home Ministry by 5pm.
The ministry will have to complete some procedures to free Khaleda.
According to the source, a summary of the Law Ministry’s recommendation for Khaleda’s release will be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office soon.
Upon approval by the Prime Minister, they will send it to the jail authorities for taking steps in this regard.
A Home Ministry official said Khaleda may be released on Wednesday afternoon.
Khaleda has been in jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018.
She was found guilty in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.
She has been receiving treatment at BSMMU since April 1 last year.