DHAKA: The Bangladesh government on Wednesday turned a notorious jail into a courtroom to try ailing opposition leader Khaleda Zia on corruption charges.
The 73-year-old former prime minister, already serving a five-year term in Dhaka Central Jail, was brought into the temporary courtroom in a wheelchair insisting she would not get a fair hearing, reports said.
“I know I won’t get justice. You can rule whatever you like. I am extremely ill. My hand and a leg are becoming paralysed,” she told the court, according to the ntvbd.com news portal.
“You can punish me however you want,” the head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party added.
Zia’s lawyers have condemned the decision to use the jail, where she is the only inmate, into a court. They have said they will seek a ruling from a higher court to get the move overturned. Zia was granted bail in a corruption case in May but remains in jail while she fights dozens of other violence and graft charges.
The prison in the old Mughal district of Dhaka was built under British colonial rule in the 19th century and was Bangladesh’s largest prison until it was declared abandoned in 2016.
Four of Bangladesh’s founding leaders were killed in the prison on the eve of a military coup in November 1975 while hundreds of death row inmates including politicians, coup plotters and Islamists were hanged there in the intervening decades.