Bangladesh court jails opposition leader Zia

Bangladesh court jails opposition leader Zia

Bangladesh law says anyone imprisoned for more than two years can not run for office for the next five years, but Law Minister Anisul Huq said the final decision rests with the courts.

"This verdict will deepen the country's existing political crisis and will damage people's faith in the judiciary", said Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the BNP. "Further course of action will be declared later".

Pakistan's Dawn also covered the news, writing "Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia given 5 years in jail for embezzlement". But journalists were not allowed.

A court in Bangladesh sentenced opposition leader Khaleda Zia to five years in jail yesterday after convicting the two-time former premier of embezzling money. She was immediately taken to a special jail in the old part of the city where she would have to remain until her lawyers file an appeal. The lawyers, who accompanied the former PM to the jail gate, also conveyed the BNP chief's message to her followers.

"An election could be impossible as we expect more arrests and protests in the country in the coming months", he said, adding that the government plans to hold an election like the one held in 2014, which was boycotted by nearly all the opposition parties.

"It's up to the appeals court to decide whether she will be eligible to run", he said after the verdict.


Thousands of her supporters poured onto the streets and surrounded Zia's motorcade as they chanted anti-government slogans and moved on by cordoning off the motorcade as it slowly progressed.

Khaleda was given a shorter term while her son, Tarique Rahman, and four others were jailed for 10 years at the end of a case that lasted almost 10 years. Human Rights Watch director Brad Adams said the Bangladeshi government is trying to stop political dissent and asked that it cease "arbitrary arrests and detentions".

Earlier violent clashes broke out between security forces and pro-opposition protesters in the capital Dhaka.

At a press conference in Dhaka on Wednesday, Khaleda accused the government of "false allegations to harass" her and her family but called on her supporters to be peaceful. "We strongly condemned and protested it". An opposition spokesman told HRW that thousands had been detained including members of BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, and others not linked to any party.

BNP senior leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi denounced the sentence, calling it "an attempt to eliminate the opponent".

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