Bangladesh’s former PM Khaleda Zia jailed for corruption

Former prime minister of Bangladesh and the leader of the BNP, Khaleda Zia.

The leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia has been jailed for five years on corruption charges.

Ms Zia, who was the former prime minister, denies misusing global funds donated to a charitable children’s trust.

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

The current corruption case is one of many pending against Ms Zia, the main political rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the ruling Awami League Party.

Ms Zia has stated that the charges against her are “politically motivated”.

As she went into court yesterday, she told weeping relatives: “I will be back. Do not worry and be strong”, according to the Daily Star.

The verdict was read out in a court in Dhaka after police used tear gas to disperse thousands of BNP supporters.

Several police officers were also injured during the violence, reports said.

Ms Zia was led away to jail minutes after the verdict, Bdnews24 reported.

Her son, Tariq Rahman, who currently resides in London was given 10 years in jail in absentia. The same jail term was handed down to four of her political aides.

The trial against Ms Zia was in relation to around £182,000 intended for an orphanage trust set up when she was prime minister. She was found guilty of misusing the funds.

The corruption charges against her led to her boycotting the 2014 elections, which sparked national protests at the time.

For Thursday’s verdict there was increased security across Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong and other major cities. Many shops and schools were reportedly shut.

According to the BNP, hundreds of the party’s supporters and activists were arrested in the run-up to the verdict.

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