DHAKA (Reuters) – Former Bangladesh premier Khaleda Zia said on Wednesday there was ‘no justice’ as she was produced before a makeshift court inside a prison where she is serving a five-year sentence for corruption.
The prison court appearance could escalate a rivalry between Khaleda and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who have dominated politics in Bangladesh for more than two decades.
Khaleda’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Wednesday announced rallies across the country for Saturday to protest the government’s decision to set up the court inside the prison.
“You can punish me as long as you want. I know there is no justice,” said Khaleda, 73, who was jailed in February and was brought to the court room in a wheelchair. The hearing was for a separate corruption case.
“I am extremely ill. My leg will swell if I sit for long. I can’t come here again and again in this condition,” she told the court.
Khaleda’s lawyers said the decision to use the jail as a trial venue was “unconstitutional and illegal”. The justice minister denied this. The next hearing starts on September 12.
Khaleda and the BNP say the charges are part of a plot to keep her and her family out of politics. She and Hasina are both related to former national leaders.
Hasina won the 2014 election for a second five-year term after Khaleda boycotted the polls in protest at the scrapping of the practice of installing a neutral caretaker government to oversee elections.
The government of Hasina has been shaken by protests by tens of thousands of students in the past weeks.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)