Dhaka: Former premier and leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia on Thursday became the first ex-Bangladeshi Prime Minister to appear before a court, which granted her eight weeks of interim bail in connection with a graft case.
Court officials said the former premier appeared this afternoon before a two-member bench headed by Judge Syed M Dastagir Husain, who granted her the bail in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
The development came four months after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case against Zia and three others accusing them of abusing power in setting up the charitable trust naming it after her assassinated husband and former president Ziaur Rahman.
"This is for the first time a former head of the government appeared before the High Court to seek bail in a case in Bangladesh's history... she appeared before the court to show respect and confidence to the court," Zia's lawyer and former law minister Moudud Ahmed told newsmen.
Police in riot gears kept a sharp vigil as several hundred party activists waited for hours together at court lobbies to hear the fate of the bail petition of Zia who also faces four other graft cases filed during the past military-backed emergency rules under an interim government.
According to the charge the money for the trust was collected from different sources, using the influence of the then Prime Minister's Office while Zia was in power and as the first managing trustee, opened the account with the PMO branch of a bank on January 1 in 2005.
The FIR says Taka 7.81 crore was deposited with the trust account in a week starting from January 13, 2005.
The other accused in the case are Zia's former political secretary Abul Harris Chowdhury, his assistant personal secretary Ziaul Islam Munna and BNP activist Monirul Islam Khan.