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Jun 16, 2008 at 12:57pm IST

Bangladeshi govt to release ex-PM Khaleda Zia

Dhaka: In the wake of national and international pressure, the military-backed interim government of Bangladesh has announced that it will release former prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia.

"It cannot be done overnight. But we are in the final phase of the process for her release," Education Adviser of the caretaker government Hossain Zillur Rahman said.

The 62-year-old Zia was detained last September under graft charges, days after her archrival Sheikh Hasina was freed for treatment abroad.

FREE BIRD: The 62-year-old Zia was detained last September under graft charges.

Zia was arrested along with her two sons Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko under the massive anti-graft drive launched last year by the caretaker government.

The caretaker government was installed with military supports in January 2007 after President Iajuddin Ahmed imposed a state of emergency.

The military-backed government claimed that it released Hasina, after 11 months of detention, on humanitarian grounds.

But Zia's party expects the government to free her without attaching any strings.

Hasina's Awami League and BNP had earlier declined to join a crucial political dialogue with the government ahead of the planned December elections unless their leaders were released.

"No petition should be needed for her (Zia's) release. We will, however, follow anything she suggests," BNP Secretary General Khondokar Delwar Hossain said.

"Everyone believes that this government has been detaining her in cases filed for political reasons. Now it is their responsibility to decide which process to follow for her release," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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