The interim administration would discuss unconditional release of two former prime ministers – Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia—now detained in graft charges as demanded by political parties, professionals and former lawmakers.
‘The demand is coming in, naturally to the government. The advisory council will discuss it. They will definitely look into the demand,’ Syed Fahim Munain, the press secretary to the chief adviser, told reporters after the weekly meeting of the advisory council on Sunday.
He was asked about the government’s position towards the demands seeking unconditional release of the two former premiers who had run the country between 1991 and 2006 by different quarters.
But the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed detained them as part of its anti-graft drive.
Both Awami League and BNP have been demanding unconditional release of their leaders, now staying in two houses, declared special jail, adjacent to parliament building, ever since they were detained
Sheikh Hasina, also the president of Awami League, was arrested on May 16, 2007 followed by the arrest of her arch political rival Khaleda Zia, the chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, on September 3, 2007.
Sheikh Hasina who held the office as the prime minister from 1996 to 2001 is implicated in two graft cases and three extortion charges while Khaleda Zia, the prime minister from 1991 to 1996 and 2001 and 2006, charged with three graft charges. Sheikh Hasina is facing trail one case while the rest of the charges are under investigation. All the cases filed against Khaleda Zia were still under investigation.
In a letter handed to the Chief Adviser’s Office on Sunday, the BNP formally asked the government to release all political leaders, including the Khaleda Zia and her family members before March 26, the Independence Day.
On March 12, the AL made almost similar demand in a letter to the chief adviser, asking the government for unconditional release of ailing Sheikh Hasina to ensure her proper medical treatment in US.
Hasina was allowed to undergo treatment at a private hospital in Dhaka.
A group of former lawmakers of the eighth parliament in a statement on Saturday requested the interim administration to release of all the two top leaders before the Independence and National Day.
On a question, the chief adviser’s press secretary said the government must see the demand as “you know letter has come from the BNP too, and the journalists also demanded the same”.
‘These will remain in a democratic process, and they (the council of advisers) will definitely look into the matters,’ the press secretary said adding that the further steps will be taken after that.
To a question on the chief adviser’s reported comment on non-eligibility of the two former premiers to a proposed Truth and Accountability Commission, the official spokesman said the proposed commission is not only for them.
The chief adviser told the media that anyone convicted may be non eligible to appear before the proposed commission, he said adding ‘The terms and conditions of the commission is yet to finalised.’
The chief adviser had said that those who are convicted by the law are not eligible to appear before the proposed commission, that does not necessary mean he mentioned conviction of the two leaders, said Fahim Munaim.
The chief advisers’ interview with an international media, Aljajeera, was aired on early Saturday.