Doubts over price of freeing former prime minister Hasina
by Nozrul Islam
The leader of the Awami League will go to the United States for medical care. Her rival, Zia, also detained for corruption, does not intend to leave the country. Has the interim government bartered their release for its own immunity?

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - All of a sudden, the obstacles have fallen that until now were blocking two Bangladeshi political leaders, in prison for corruption, from being freed "to seek medical care" abroad.  Yesterday, the interim government, with the support of the military, announced the temporary release of Sheikh Hasina Wajed, prime minister from 1996 to 2001.  The woman, head of the Awami League opposition party, has suffered from serious ear problems for some time.  She will be able to leave the country to seek care in the United States, but the trial against her will continue.  The announcement was made by the public prosecutor, Sharfuddin Khan Mukul: she will be released according to an administrative order.  The other leader, Khaleda Zia, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, instead refuses to leave, preferring national medical institutions.

Analysts have been surprised by the rapidity with which the mostly procedural impediments to the release of the two women, requested for some time by their lawyers, have been dropped.  The fate of the two is one of the questions with which the provisional government continues to struggle.  It was thought that by removing them from public attention, the parties could be "cleansed" from within.  It was probably hoped that the political organisations would no longer have the strength to organise popular resistance, but instead it seems that this is still possible.

It is likely that the conditions for the release of Hasina and Zia include that of future immunity for those now in power. There are a number of legal pretexts for trying the current "advisers", who since the beginning have been in an extra-constitutional situation, if not an outright anti-constitutional one.  And now, with the end of their adventure in sight, it is clear that they want to dismiss the possibility of imprisonment.