Bangladesh ex-PM Sheikh Hasina may walk to freedom: lawyer

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Dhaka, Jun 8 (UNI) Bangladesh's detained former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may walk to freedom as a special court here today relieved her from appearing in person in a corruption case.

Her lawyer Shafique Ahmed told journalists that there is no longer any legal bar to Sheikh Hasina going abroad for medical treatment.

Earlier, he filed a petition in this respect on the ground of her illness.

''The court has accepted her prayer. We will get a certified copy of the court order tomorrow morning,'' he said, adding the government might send her abroad for the treatment.

Public Prosecutor Shahidul Islam did not oppose the defence petition during the hearing.

Sheikh Hasina who was in office from 1996-2001 was arrested on July 16 last year in connection with the extortion case of 3 crore Taka filed by a businessman.

She is now facing 15 charges of corruption and extortion.

Her party, Awami League, has been demanding Hasina's release for treatment in the US as she has been suffering from acute health problemsin ears and eyes.

In a high drama that started unfolding this afternoon, Justice Firoz Alam resumed his court in the highly secured parliament building complex for the second time beyond the court hours.

After a brief hearing, the court fixed tomorrow's date for issuing a certified copy of its order.

Meanwhile, thousands of Awami League leaders, workers and supporters thronged the Parliament building area amid reports that their detained leader might be released any time.

The former Prime Minister's nuclear scientist husband Wazed Mia rushed to meet her at the makeshift jail in the parliament building complex.

The incumbent army-backed caretaker government assumed office in January last year and cracked down on corrupt politicians and businessmen. Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her two sons were also arrested on charges of corruption.

Begum Khaleda who is also suffering from knee-pain had operation in New York while she was the Prime Minister in 2002. The government had reportedly offered her to go abroad for treatment like Sheikh Hasina but she turned down the proposal in the court today.

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