Friday, 23 February, 2018

Bangladesh court jails Oppn leader Zia for five years

Khaleda Zia. Twitter  ANI Khaleda Zia. Twitter ANI
Melinda Barton | 08 February, 2018, 12:59

Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to five years in jail for corruption.

The opposition leader is accused of abusing global funds that were offered to a children's trust, charges she claims to be politically motivated. 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.

Zia had faced the possibility of a life sentence.

Earlier there were clashes between security forces and opposition protesters who had defied security measures to escort the vehicle taking the opposition leader to court.

Security has been beefed up around government and non- governmental establishments across the country ahead of the verdict.

Television footage showed police detaining a number of demonstrators, some of whom pelted bricks at officers.

The sentence means she is barred from parliamentary polls due this year.

In July 2008, Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed the case against six people, including Khaleda and her eldest son Tarique Rahman, for allegedly misusing Tk2.1 crore that had come as grants for orphans from a foreign bank.

She has repeatedly said the charges against her are aimed at excluding her and her family from politics. She said the charges were politically motivated.

Supporters of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) shout slogans outside the court in Dhaka.

"The Bangladesh government's claims to be open and democratic ring hollow as it cracks down on political dissent", Adams said.

"The government has a responsibility to prevent and minimise violence, but it needs to do so in a way that respects basic rights, not flouts them".

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

Elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armed police were called out to guard Dhaka streets while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League said their activists would be ready to "assist police" if the BNP tried to foment any unrest over the verdict, reports PTI.