Courts clear way for Hasina's treatment abroad

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Dhaka, Jun 9 (UNI) Special courts in Bangladesh today exempted detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina from personal appearance during trial proceedings, clearing the way for her treatment abroad.

Hasina, who ruled the country as prime minister for five years from 1996, has been suffering acute problems to her eyes and ears.

Earlier, a medical board set up by the government advised her treatment abroad as her hearing aid became dysfunctional.

Hasina was arrested on July 16 last year in connection with an extortion case during anti-corruption crackdown by the current military-backed government.

In a dramatic turn of events, the special courts exempted her from personal appearance during the trial proceedings in four corruption cases.

Her three passport seized at the time of her arrest were also freed.

According to the court orders, Hasina's lawyers would represent her during the trial in all the four cases.

Today's speedy courts orders and return of the passports cleared the way for Hasina's travel abroad for treatment.

Hasina's lawyer Barrister Shafique Ahmed said, an executive order will be needed from the government to confirm her travel abroad.

He said if the government issues the order, Hasina may leave the country any time either for America or Canada for her treatment.

Political sources said Hasina's release is an outcome of the behind-the-scene negotiation with the caretaker government.

Her party Awami League has been demanding for long her release unconditionally as a pre-condition to join the pre-election political dialogue of the government.

The government also made similar offer to another detained prime minister Khaleda Zia for treatment abroad. But she spurned the offer yesterday saying she would not go outside as there were many good doctors in the country.

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