Bangladesh's ex-PM Khaleda's son Tarique Rahman released on bail

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Dhaka, Sep 3 (UNI) Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's eldest son and political heir Tarique Rahman was released on bail today after nearly 18 months in detention and drama in the country's pre-election politics.

The jail guards withdrew him from his cabin in the prison cell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, leaving him free at 1630 hrs (local time).

Hundreds of leaders and workers of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its front organisations thronged the BSMMU to celebrate the freedom of their party's upcoming leader.

Tarique, 43, was arrested on March 7 last year from their Dhaka cantonment residence by army-led joint forces amid a purge against crime and corruption after the 11/1 changeover following a political crisis over election issues.

His mother Khaleda Zia and younger brother Arafat Rahman Koko were also arrested on graft charges. Koko was released on July 17 on health grounds. He is now undergoing treatment for his respiratory complications at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok.

Tarique's much-orchestrated release came into reality after the High Court had gone great guns granting him bail in all 13 graft cases and the Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision by rejecting the government and Anti-Corruption Commission's appeals for stay yesterday.

The jail authorities set him free from custody, but he remained under treatment in a different cabin of the BSMMU.

Tarique, suffering from spinal cord complications, may be sent to Germany for better treatment.

Separate medical boards formed for his health checkups have suggested sending him abroad for treatment.

After Tarique, the road towards the release of Khaleda Zia now looks smooth. So long, she has refused to get released before the release of her two sons.

Khaleda's release may help ease the muddled-up situation in the country's political turf ahead of the general election slated for the third week of December.

BNP leadership, of late, said the troubled immediate-past ruling party would join political dialogue with the caretaker government and take part in the elections if Khaleda was freed.

Earlier, another ex-premier, Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, was paroled on June 11 on her health grounds. She is now in the USA for treatment of her damaged ears and eyes.

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