Khaleda Zia’s ailing son out on bail

Dhaka, September 3:

Bangladesh’s military-backed government released the ailing elder son of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia today pending his corruption trial, authorities said.

Tarique Rahman, a joint secretary-general of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was freed after the High Court granted him bail on medical grounds, prison official Shamsul Haider Siddiqui said.

He said Rahman has been suffering from a broken hip and high blood pressure.

Rahman has mostly been held in a prison cell of a Dhaka hospital since his arrest last year on 13 corruption charges, including extortion.

He has recently been granted bail in all the cases for better medical treatment.

Rahman will stay in the hospital for another couple of days, his lawyer Mahbubuddin Khokan said.

Also today, Zia, who is also being held on corruption charges, completed her first year of imprisonment at a special prison set up at Dhaka’s Parliament complex.

In July this year, Zia’s youngest son, Arafat Rahman Coco, was freed on parole from the prison cell of the same hospital to receive medical treatment abroad. Coco, a businessman, also faces several corruption charges.

Zia served as Bangladesh’s prime minister during 2001-2006.

The former premier has repeatedly insisted she and her sons are innocent, saying the corruption charges are a conspiracy to destroy the image of her family and political party.

Bangladesh, a parliamentary democracy since 1991, is currently ruled by an interim government backed by the influential military.

The present administration came to power in January after President Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency following weeks of violent protests demanding electoral reforms.