Convicted Awami League MP leaves country for medical treatment — BenarNews


Bangladeshi opposition activists are crying foul after a convicted ruling party lawmaker was allowed to travel for medical treatment abroad, despite their years-long petitions to allow their leader, Khaleda Zia, to do the same after being blocked several times.

League member Awami Haji Mohammad Salim, a three-time MP, left Dhaka for treatment in Bangkok on April 30, his lawyer confirmed, despite a High Court ordering him to surrender to serve a prison sentence. 10 years following his conviction for corruption.

“My client went to Bangkok for treatment and will return home on May 6. He told me that he will go to the magistrate court on May 17 or 18,” lawyer Mr Syed said. Ahmed Raza at Benar News. “He was not required to ask the court for permission to travel abroad.”

Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, questioned this action.

“The government allowed Haji Selim to leave the country while refusing the request of our leader and three-time prime minister, Khaleda Zia, to seek better medical treatment abroad,” Alamgir said. “This is testimony that the sentencing of Begum Khaleda Zia was politically motivated and aimed at keeping him away from politics.”

Zia was convicted in separate corruption trials in February and October 2018 and sentenced to 17 years in prison. She was taken to Dhaka’s Old Central Jail after her sentencing on February 8, 2018.

The only prisoner in the prison, Zia was held there until March 25, 2020, when the court suspended her sentence in response to her family’s request that she be released at home for health reasons. Since then, the government has refused to ask him to leave the country for advanced medical treatment.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the government was unaware of Selim’s whereabouts.

“I don’t remember when Haji Salim came to my office and informed me that he would go to the Magistrate’s Court and then apply for bail. But we don’t know if he left the country,” Khan told BenarNews.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a corruption complaint against Salim in 2007. A year later, a court in Dhaka sentenced him to 13 years and fined him 2 million taka ($23,179 US).

Following appeals, the High Court in early 2021 reduced the sentence to 10 years and the fine to 1 million taka ($11,573). The final verdict, released on February 10, 2022, ordered Salim to surrender to authorities within 30 days. He has not yet served a single day of his prison sentence.

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Khurshid Alam, an ACC lawyer, compared the cases of Salim and Zia.

“The case of Haji Salim is more serious. He must go to the court of first instance in 30 days. Instead, he secretly left the country. It is a violation of the law of the land,” Alam told BenarNews.

“A convicted person should never leave the country. How he left the country is our question,” he told BenarNews. “The government did not allow Khaleda Zia to leave the country.”

Badiul Alam Majumder, a civil society leader, raised similar concerns.

“Everyone is equal before the law. The law cannot vary from person to person,” he told BenarNews. “I think those who helped Salim to leave the country should be punished so that no one dares to do the same in the future.”


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