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Ex Bangladesh PM Jailed for Five Years for Corruption

09 February 2018, 01:45 | Darnell Patrick

Ex Bangladesh PM Jailed for Five Years for Corruption

Khaleda Zia

Political analysts believe the conviction could be a "game-changer" in the elections in which incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will seek a third term.

Traffic was thrown out of gear and shops closed as security forces took Zia to jail after the verdict.

They embezzled over Tk 21 million ($252,000) from foreign donations intended for a charity named after former president Ziaur Rahman, Zia's husband.

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.

Police detained at least 282 leaders and activists of BNP and its political alliance Jamaat-e-Islami who took to the streets in Chittagong, Brahmanbaria, Chandpur, Gaibandha and Mymensingh denouncing the verdict against their party chief Khaleda Zia, reports our local correspondents.

"Security has been ramped up in the capital and elsewhere in the country to thwart any untoward incidents", Dhaka Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told reporters. It will depend on the high court whether it will give Zia a bail.

In fact, it was also being whispered - loudly - in Dhaka that if elections were to be held in Bangladesh today, Hasina's Awami League would lose.

Rahman, a senior party leader and an heir-apparent in the country's dynastic politics, lives in London.

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Her lawyers said she planned to appeal against her conviction, and will mostly likely be freed on bail pending that process.

Ms Zia was led away to jail minutes after the verdict, bdnews24 reported.

Authorities have been on high alert for days in Dhaka, where political demonstrations by Zia's centre-right BNP and its Islamist allies in 2014 and 2015 left almost 200 people dead. The police had to use tear gas shells to disperse the protesters.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Bangladesh government to stop arbitrarily arresting and detaining BNP activists.

The fierce dynastic loyalties that verge on tribalism are well-known in South Asia and there is no better example of this self-damage than the contest between Bangladesh's main political parties, both of whom are run by women.

She later returned to the post of prime minister in 2001, stepping down in October 2006 ahead of a general election. This is the first time she has been convicted.

"This verdict proves that nobody is above law", he told BenarNews.

Authorities are on high alert for protests in the tense city, where political demonstrations by Zia's centre-right BNP and its Islamist allies in 2014 and 2015 left almost 200 people dead.



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