Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia was sentenced to seven years of jail by a court in Dhaka in a graft case, as per reports.
Convicted in corruption case
Khaleda Zia has been convicted in connection with the Zia Charitable Trust Fund case. Zia and three others have been found guilty of abusing their power and raising funds for the trust from unknown sources.
The Anti-Corruption Commission had filed the case in 2011. The judgment comes seven years later. The court has imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh each on the accused. The court also stated that they will have to serve six months extra if they fail to pay the fine.
The 73-year-old Zia, whose BNP is the main opposition outside parliament, is already serving a five-year jail term since February. She was earlier convicted in relation to embezzlement of funds of an orphanage. The orphanage is named after her husband Ziaur Rahman, who became the 7th President of Bangladesh in 1977. He ruled until 1981, when he was assassinated in a military coup.
Earlier, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court had rejected a leave-to-appeal petition filed by Zia. The petition seemed to challenge the HC judgment that allowed a lower court to continue the trial in her absence. On September 20, the court had firmly decided to carry on with the trial. The rejection of Zia’s petition cleared the way for the trial court to continue the hearing. She, however, skipped the hearing citing ill health.
With this, Zia’s hope of running against current PM Sheikh Hasina in December election comes to a halt. “She cannot contest the elections unless the conviction is set aside by a higher court,” Bangladesh’s attorney general Mahbubey Alam told AFP.
Zia served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996, and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first woman in the country’s history to head a democratic government as prime minister.