Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

B'desh ex-PM Khaleda Zia jailed amid clashes

B'desh ex-PM Khaleda Zia jailed amid clashes

Khaleda was given a shorter term while her son, Tarique Rahman, and four others were jailed for 10 years at the end of a case that lasted almost 10 years.

Zia, was sentenced by the Special Court-5 in Dhaka, in connection with the embezzlement of 2,52,000 dollars in foreign donations meant for Zia Orphanage Trust. "She can also seek bail".

"She was given a shorter term considering her health and social status", said Judge Mohammad Akhteruzzaman after reading the verdict in a packed courtroom. "We will file an appeal against the verdict next week", he said.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters shout slogans during a protest in a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh on February 8. Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators ahead of Zia's hearing.

Bangladesh authorities should stop the arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters and others, Human Rights Watch said today.

"The BNP has been in disarray, but the verdict can be a game-changer as it can give the cadres a rallying point that may yield rich dividends in the polls", a political analyst in Dhaka said. "But we do continue to call for an inclusive and democratic process in the country".

Earlier on Thursday, the normally clogged streets of Dhaka were nearly empty as bus and ferry services were cut and thousands of riot police spread out in anticipation of unrest. Asaduzzaman Mia, Dhaka's police commisioner, while speaking to reporters said "Security has been ramped up in the capital and elsewhere in the country to thwart any untoward incidents". Anticipating blockades and protests, the government had detained several senior BNP leaders, while several others have gone into hiding. Dhaka-based group Ain O Salish Kendra said a "total of 1,786 persons have been arrested in the last eight days".

The jail sentence may mean the 72-year-old is barred from parliamentary polls due later this year.

She was convicted of misappropriating the fund intended for the welfare of orphans.

Reacting to the sentencing of her arch-rival, Prime Minister Hasina said, the case as natural consequences of Zia's past deeds and accused her of looting public property and burning to death over 500 people in a "demonstration of extreme brutality". But Zia's supporters clashed with police as she was on her way to the court.

"This verdict proves that nobody is above law", he told BenarNews. He added that many people would see it as a tactic for removing the main contender in the election and a way of "demonising a political opponent".

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