'Extremely ill' Khaleda Zia admitted to Dhaka hospital

Zia has been transferred to a hospital from prison where she is serving a sentence for corruption.

    Zia remains a popular figure in Bangladesh. Her imprisonment has caused riots [File: Andrew Biraj/Reuters]
    Zia remains a popular figure in Bangladesh. Her imprisonment has caused riots [File: Andrew Biraj/Reuters]

    Jailed Bangladesh opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia has been admitted into a Dhaka hospital following a court order in response to her deteriorating health.

    Zia, 73, was taken from the abandoned 19th-century prison where she is serving her sentence on corruption charges to a top medical university clinic in the heart of the capital on Saturday, according to an AFP news agency photographer at the scene.

    "She has been admitted to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University hospital," director of the clinic Brigadier General Abdullah al-Harun told AFP.

    Her transfer to the hospital came just days after the country's high court ordered immediate treatment for Zia after her lawyers argued the government was putting her health at risk by refusing her specialised care.

    Facing further charges of graft at a hearing early last month, she said she was "extremely ill" and that her arm and leg were becoming paralysed.

    Her lawyer Zainal Abedin told AFP this week that Zia would be able to choose her own doctors from outside the state-run hospital.

    Zia's supporters have remained loyal through her legal troubles [Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters]

    Zia was sentenced to five years for corruption in February, triggering clashes between police and thousands of supports of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which she heads.

    Lord Alex Carlile QC, a member of Zia's legal teamtold Al Jazeera her sentence is a "political ploy" meant to keep her out of elections that scheduled to take place in December.

    Zia is appealing the verdict which bars her from standing in the election. She remains imprisoned while she fights dozens of other violence and graft charges.

    Zia was once an ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Bangladesh Awami League party who turned into a fierce political rival.

    She is the only inmate in Dhaka Central Jail that was built under British colonial rule and declared abandoned in 2016.

    Last month, authorities turned a room of the jail into a court - a move her lawyers said was illegal.

    Her party boycotted the 2014 election in which Hasina returned to power but is expected to contest the election due in December.

    Is Bangladesh moving towards a one-party state?

    UpFront

    Is Bangladesh moving towards a one-party state?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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