Dhaka: Bangladesh Supreme Court on Thursday rejected BNP chief Khaleda Zia's bail petition in a corruption case, delaying the release of ailing former prime minister from the jail.
A six-member bench of the Appellate Division of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud rejected 74-year-old Zia's appeal against a High Court order that turned down her bail plea in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case, Bdnews24 reported.
The court also ordered the authorities to swiftly take measures to ensure that Zia gets 'advanced treatment' in line with the recommendations of her medical board at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, it said.
Zia, a three-time former prime minister, is lodged in a 200-year-old prison in Dhaka since February last year, serving a total of 17 years jail term in two graft cases. Her health has massively deteriorated over the months.
Her release would have been ensured if she was granted bail in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case as she has already secured bail in the other cases against her, according to her legal counsels.
"We've fought a legal battle for her bail. It is unprecedented for a court to refuse bail in a case involving a seven-year sentence. This is a scandalous incident," Zia's lawyer Khondoker Mahbub said after the ruling.
During the hearing, Attorney General MahbubeyAlam informed the court about Zia's medical report submitted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) authorities on Wednesday.
"The BNP chairperson has been suffering from arthritis for the last 30 years and diabetes for 20 years. She is suffering from pain on her left knee since 1997," he said, citing the medical report.
"Apart from that, she also has Asthma, and is physically weak. She is refusing to receive treatment from doctors at the hospital," the attorney general added.
The court ruling deals a blow to Zia, who was hoping of her release from the jail.
Zia was made vice-chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in March 1983 after the assassination of her husband Zia-ur Rahman. She became chairperson of the party on May 10, 1984, a post she is holding till now.
In her 36 years of political career, Zia went to the jail several times.
During the 2007-2008 tenure of the army-backed caretaker government, she was in jail for about a year on charges of corruption.