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

Live Khaleda Zia verdict in Zia Orphanage Trust case

Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia reached Dhaka court to hear the judgment in the corruption case levelled against her and her son, a Bangladesh official said.

However, the 72-year old BNP chief denied misusing worldwide funds donated to a charitable children's trust.

The court also sentenced Zia's eldest son and BNP's senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman to 10 years in jail. Her political aides are also chalking out a protest strategy. "We'll go to the higher court", Hossain said. "I believe the court will acquit me of all charges", she said.

The police had to use tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets as the BNP activists exploded crackers and pelted stones at Kakrail area soon after the convoy passed the spot. At least four people have been injured in the clashes, he added. It also accused the government of "violating the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly" by preventing opposition supporters from demonstrating.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir accused the government of trying "to keep the BNP out of politics".

Many private schools declared a holiday on Thursday in anticipation of the verdict, while several ride-hailing services announced a day-long suspension of their operations.

The opposition boycotted the previous general election in 2014, saying the government would not guarantee fair results. After the verdict, supporters hit the streets of Dhaka, blocking roads and clashing with police.

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But in comments that speak of the intense rivalry between the country's two most powerful women, Prime Minister Hasina said of her chief opponent: "Where is she now?"

In recent months, a watchful establishment in Delhi, mindful of the strains and pressures from radical Islamists as well as the temptation of financial assistance offered to Dhaka by a rapidly influential China, has made it clear that it will support Hasina's democratic Awami League.

For Thursday's verdict there was heightened security across the capital and other cities.

Ziaur Rahman was president of Bangladesh from 1977 to 1981, having come to power as head of the country's military at a time of martial law.

Judge Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Court-5 in Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to rigorous imprisonment, and said she was given a short jail term considering her "health and social status". This is the first time she has been convicted.

Ahead of her graft case verdict, Zia on Wednesday once again pleaded not guilty in the charge.

"Law is equal to all", said Iqbal Mahmood, chairman of Anti-Corruption Commission which filed the case, while giving his reaction to the verdict at his Segunbagicha office.

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