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Court questions Govt on Zia's confinement

world Updated: Apr 20, 2007 16:44 IST

The Dhaka High Court has asked the Bangladesh government if former prime minister Khaleda Zia was 'confined' to her home.

Amid media reports Zia was trying to delay her departure to Saudi Arabia on various pleas, the court also expressed its concern over the issue and asked the government counsel to convey "our anxiety to the authorities concerned".

A habeas corpus petition filed by a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) functionary has sought a court directive to ensure that the government does not force her out of the country.

When the petition about her "illegal confinement" was submitted, Additional Attorney General Salauddin Ahmed told the court that he would inform about the present state of the former premier in writing on Sunday.

As far as he knew, no measures had been taken for her confinement or house arrest, he said. "She is free, rather, we would have been surprised to see that she did not visit her son in prison."

The government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed is working out diplomatic formalities to send Zia and most of her family members to Saudi Arabia and is said to be keen that she leaves latest by Sunday.

Zia, who has not been allowed to come out of her Dhaka Cantonment residence since April 2, has told those mediating between her and the authorities concerned that she wants to meet senior party leaders before leaving the country, sources said.

The leader, who had been asked to leave by Thursday, is also learnt to have been trying to delay her departure till Sunday at the least to see the fate of the habeas-corpus petition.

New Age newspaper said Zia was "trying to buy time" and that she and the "government's military backers" were "trying to outsmart each other".

"...she [Khaleda] has been trying to delay the departure as the government is yet to settle some issues including her demand that her elder politician-son, Tareq Rahman be allowed to go with her," a family source told the newspaper.

The family was holding out. Asked if there was any possibility that Tareq would accompany her mother or would join her abroad later, the source said: "Neither the government wants Tareq to leave at the moment, nor does he want to leave."