Onlinedesk | 31 May 2018 | 10:59 pm
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said she does not have the authority to free someone from jail amidst the BNP’s call for release of its imprisoned chief Khaleda Zia.
“Why must they demand (Khaleda’s) freedom? The BNP lawyers could not prove that orphans’ money had not gone into her account,” Hasina said.
She made the remarks when reporters asked for her reaction to the BNP’s demand at a Ganabhaban news conference on Wednesday.
The prime minister said, “I don’t have the authority (to free someone). If they want clemency they can ask the president for it.”
“I can’t simply unlock jail gates and free someone,” she added.
The prime minister also said the issue of Khaleda’s freedom will be settled nowhere but in court.
The former prime minister has been in the old jailhouse on Nazimuddin Road since Feb 8 after court sentenced her to five years in prison for corruption in Zia Orphanage Trust.
She has secured bail in the case from the Supreme Court, but arrest orders for her in a number of other cases have halted her freedom.
The news conference at the Ganabhaban was organised on the prime minister’ recent visit to India.
There, Hasina also responded to the BNP’s claim that she went to India to “perpetuate herself in power, not to pursue national interests”.
“Didn’t Khaleda visit India? Zia (BNP founder Ziaur Rahman) visited India in December, 1977 within two years of usurping power.”
“They went to India to remain in power,” she added.
During and before her visit, the BNP had also attacked Hasina for failing to get a breakthrough in Teesta water-sharing deal.
Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said Hasina “could not bring even a bucketful of water from India”.
Asked about Rizvi’s comments, a smiling Hasina said, “We should send Rizvi a bucket of water.”
Addressing Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, who sat beside her, she said, “Get someone to send some bottles of water during Ramadan.”
She also took questions about Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal’s hint that national cricket team captains Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Shakib Al Hasan may join politics and run for parliament.
Asked if the grassroots Awami League leaders may be overlooked if Mashrafe and Shakib joined politics, Hasina said, “Celebrities get nominations in all the countries.
“They too have the desire (to lead the people in politics). They have brought honour to the country,” she said.