Ershad Fails to Come out of Jail despite Bangladesh Court Order
Deposed Bangladeshi military ruler Hussain Muhammad Ershad remained in prison Thursday despite a court order for his immediate release the previous day, prison sources said.
Legal and procedural matters delayed his freedom following Wednesday's order which came after Ershad's lawyer deposited half of a fine that his client owed with the government treasury, they said.
But the private UNB news agency reported that a 30-day detention order had been served on him Thursday under the tough Special Powers Act of 1974 which allows police to detain a person without specifying any charge.
Dhaka Judge Abdul Qauder Newaz Wednesday passed the order to the top security Central Jail after Ershad's attorney Khandakar Mahbuddin Ahmed presented documents showing that he had deposited 27.4 million taka (508,000 dollars).
Ershad could not be freed Wednesday since his release order arrived after the prison cells were locked, earlier reports said.
One official earlier also said that Ershad was due to be produced in court in a case linked to the alleged murder of army major general Abul Manzur, who was killed in mysterious circumstances in a 1981 abortive coup.
"Ershad cannot be released unless this order (for his court presence) is recalled by the court," he said.
Ershad was jailed for seven years in August over a 1991 corruption case and fined one million dollars, but the sentence was later reduced on appeal to five years.
Lawyers earlier said some time would be subtracted from his sentence to take into account the six years he had served earlier, also for corruption.
His fine was also cut in half as he had already served more than three months of his prison term since he gave himself up after fighting a long legal battle stay out of jail.
Ershad, 70, has filed appeals against nearly a dozen similar convictions and still faces several more graft and other charges.
Ershad was automatically stripped of his parliamentary seat under the constitution after being convicted on corruption charges in 1991, but petitioned the court to re-examine his case.
After the 1996 general election, a jailed Ershad led his party to join Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's "national consensus government" and was granted bail in 1997.
After two years he switched sides and joined the opposition, but his then-secretary general and communications minister Anwar Hossain stayed on, splitting his party – DHAKA (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)