Ex-Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia sentenced to 5 years in graft case

Bangladesh: End Crackdown on Opposition Supporters

Bangladesh: End Crackdown on Opposition Supporters

A Bangladesh court has sentenced former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to five years in prison on corruption charges.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League (AL) party, which rose to power with a landslide election victory in early 2009 and won its second term in 2014, now eyes for the third consecutive victory.

Following the verdict, local newspaper The Daily Star said Zia was taken to the Dhaka Central jail.

Zia, 72, denies misusing global funds donated to the charitable children's trust.

In Khaleda's case, if the higher court gives her bail and yet upholds the sentencing, then she will be disqualified from the poll, it said.

Zia's supporters clashed with police and blocked roads in Dhaka in the wake of the verdict.

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The leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who wore an off-white sari and her trademark goggles, offered her prayers and comforted her relatives, most of whom, were in tears, as she left her Gulshan residence for the court.

The trial against Zia centred around the donation intended for an orphanage trust set up when she was Prime Minister.

Zia, who entered politics in the mid-1980s after her military dictator husband was assassinated in an abortive coup, also faces dozens of separate charges related to violence and corruption.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the main motive of the verdict is to keep Zia away from the upcoming election.

She said political vendettas are to blame for the cases against her and her son.

Around 3,500 opposition activists and officials were arrested in a sweep by security forces ahead of the verdict according to BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed. An opposition spokesman told Human Rights Watch that thousands had been detained including members of the BNP, the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami, and others not linked to any party.

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