Govt asked to return Hasina's passport

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Dhaka, Mar 13 (UNI) A court here has directed the government to return the passport of detained Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina to its owner, who has been undergoing treatment in Square Hospital in the capital.

AL leader also a counsel of Hasina, Advocate Shahara Khatun, yesterday filed a petition with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court of Dhaka seeking immediate release of Hasina's passport.

In the petition, Ms Khatun said Hasina's passport, which had been seized by the joint forces on July 16 last year immediately after her arrest from her Sudha Sadan residence, might be needed any time for her trip abroad for treatment.

''So the passport is needed,'' said Ms Khatun, The Daily Star reported today.

After hearing the petition, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Golam Rabbani yesterday ordered the concerned authorities to return the passport to its owner.

A new panel of seven physicians of the hospital was also formed yesterday for Hasina's medical check-up, who already started her medical tests.

Source said the government is considering Hasina's release on parole for treatment. While on parole, the AL chief will have to comply with certain conditions which include not getting involved in any political or business activity, and not contacting any organisation or individual for any reason other than her treatment.

Meanwhile, a negotiation is reportedly going on between the government and her family behind the curtain in a bid to settle amicably the terms and conditions of Hasina's release from detention, for treatment in the US.

Hasina and her party AL want her release on bail. Sources close to the negotiation told The Daily Star last night that the negotiation is likely to produce a result within the next 48 hours and the government might end up allowing the AL chief to fly to the US either on the 17th or the 19th of this month.

Hasina was admitted to Square Hospital on Tuesday where a panel of seven medical specialists recommended to send her to the US for treatment of hearing loss. Besides acute ear problems, Hasina has been suffering from allergy and high blood pressure.

UNI XC RJ KN1452

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