Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia gets 5 years in jail for graft
09 February, 2018, 05:24 | Author: Edward Snyder
The former Prime Minister has been sentenced to five-year jail term from a court in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda, both related to former national leaders, have nursed a long and bitter rivalry as they have dominated politics in poverty-stricken Bangladesh for more than two decades.
After the verdict, she was taken at the Woman Cell and Daycare Centre at the old Dhaka Central jail.
Zia's son, Tarique Rahman, and four others have been sentenced to 10 years in jail each in the same case, which was opened by the country's AntiCorruption Commission in 2008.
Opposition members gathered in the capital, Dhaka, ahead of the ruling and later clashed with police.
About BNP's holding rallies nationwide today and tomorrow in protest against sentencing the party chief, Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said BNP's protest was against the court as the court had delivered the verdict. The sentence means she is barred from parliamentary polls due this year.
Legal experts said the verdict may jeopardise her career as she may be disqualified from contesting polls, including the general elections slated for December.
Meanwhile five police officers were so far injured in clashes with supporters of convicted Khaleda Zia in Dhaka while the police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.
He said if the ruling party can use the administration effectively by keeping the protests under check and convince the people that the law took its own course by convicting a "corrupt former Prime Minister", the verdict could act to the advantage of the Awami League as well. He also accused the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of trying "to keep the BNP out of politics".
"As the prosecution has been able to prove the charges against Begum Khaleda Zia, [this court] hands her down, under section 409 and 109 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, five years imprisonment", Judge Akhtaruzzaman told the court.
However, the 72-year old BNP chief denied misusing global funds donated to a charitable children's trust.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, political observers in Dhaka said if Zia is not allowed to contest, it would be hard for the BNP to convert the popular support into a win.
In the last election in 2014, Zia's party and its political allies boycotted the race, allowing Hasina to return to power with a landslide victory. Zia is the widow of Ziaur Rahman, a general-turned-president who was assassinated in 1981.
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