Expressing her dissatisfaction, Bangladesh's imprisoned ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia Wednesday asked a court to "punish" her "as much as you want" as authorities turned an infamous Dhaka jail into a courtroom to try the opposition BNP chief in a graft case.
Zia, 72, was sentenced by the Special Court-5 in the capital Dhaka in connection with the embezzlement of 21 million takas (USD 252,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.
In the same case, her son Tarique Rahman and four others have been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
"Punish me as much as you want, punish me as long as you want . . . there is no justice here," she told the judge while appearing in the courtroom on a wheelchair from the nearby jail.
Zia told the court she was "extremely ill" and her hand and a leg were becoming paralysed.
"I can't come to the court here repeatedly as my leg will swell if I have to sit here like this," she said.
Zia is also being tried in another corruption charge involving a charity called Zia Charitable Trust while she was imprisoned in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Her defence counsels did not appear in the court, condemning the decision to use the jailhouse as the makeshift court complex.
They said they would seek a ruling from a higher court to get the move overturned.
"The decision to shift the court was taken a week ago, then why the gazette notification was issued yesterday... I would not have appeared here if I knew my lawyers are not coming," Zia said.
Judge Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Court-5, which is trying her, adjourned the hearing of the case filed by independent Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) till September 12.
The trial was previously being held at another makeshift court complex in old Dhaka's Bakshibazar area.
The Law Ministry issued a gazette on Tuesday, saying the proceedings in the Zia Charitable Trust case would now be held at the old Dhaka Central Jail complex in view of the "security concerns".
A pro-BNP lawyer present at the court, however, told the judge that the defence lawyers were not properly notified about the overnight shift of the court venue.
But Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol said authorities decided to shift the venue considering Zia's "security and health concerns".
Kajol said the decision was properly conveyed to her chief counsel while other defence lawyers were also informed about it in person.
Zia's imprisonment has shaken the country's political scenario ahead of the general elections in December this year.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition outside parliament, alleged the trial was politically motivated to debar Zia from contesting elections, an allegation denied by the government.
Political analysts fear the BNP has been exposed to a political wilderness after the conviction of Zia who is likely to be disqualified for elections unless she obtains a different direction from the Supreme Court.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)