Government says Zia unwell, lawyers say she’s ‘doing fine’

May 27th, 2008 - 1:48 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 27 (IANS) Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia was not produced in court by jail authorities who said she was unwell, but her lawyers said she was “doing fine” and called the trial against her in a corruption case “a mockery”. “We know she (Khaleda) is doing fine. The proceedings of the case cannot go on without her presence. The government did not notify the court as to why she was not produced before the judge,” said defence lawyer Sanaullah Miah after she failed to appear in court Monday.

Khandaker Delawar Hossain, secretary general of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and also her lawyer, said the trial was “a mockery”.

State counsel Mosharraf Hossain Kajal told reporters that Zia was not produced before the court due to her illness. He said the proceeding of a case, after it has been taken into cognisance, could not go on without the presence of an arrested accused.

Another counsel Abdur Razaque Khan told the court that jail authorities have to show medical certificates if she was indeed ill, but they had not done so.

He told reporters that he asked the court to issue a notice against the jail authorities ordering them to explain in detail why Zia was not produced before the court, The Daily Star newspaper said Tuesday.

The court did not pass any order in this regard.

The court, trying Zia and seven others for alleged corruption in connection with an oil exploration contract given to Nitco, a Canadian firm, also did not pass an order on Khandakar Hossain’s plea for access to Zia, lodged in a special jail in the parliament complex.

Zia, 62, has been in jail since Sep 3 last year and is being prosecuted in a number of corruption cases.

Zia’s political rival and another former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has collapsed in the courtroom more than once and has made frequent visits to hospital for various ailments in between her court appearances.

Hasina wants to go abroad for treatment, alleging that she does not receive proper medical attention in jail but the government has not decided on this.

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