Bangladesh former prime minister Khaleda Zia jailed

Zia Orphanage trust corruption case verdict

As she went into court, she told weeping relatives: "I will be back". The police had to use tear gas shells to disperse the protesters. At least four people have been injured in the clashes, he added.

But it has also gently urged Hasina to allow "visible minimum participation" by the Opposition BNP, with whom she has been at daggers drawn for several years.

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

"We continue to call upon the Government of Bangladesh to provide the right to all individuals to freely express their political views, without fear of reprisal, and to hold elections that are free, fair, peaceful, and credible, reflecting the will of the Bangladeshi people", the spokesperson said.

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Although Hasina has an impressive economic report card, she has to deal with anti-incumbency as Bangladesh had been electing her and Khaleda alternately till the January 2014 polls that the BNP boycotted after its demand for a caretaker government was turned down. After the verdict, supporters hit the streets of Dhaka, blocking roads and clashing with police. Asaduzzaman Mia, Dhaka's police commisioner, while speaking to reporters said "Security has been ramped up in the capital and elsewhere in the country to thwart any untoward incidents".

A source within the ruling Awami League told Asia Times that they are planning to enact a new law to ensure that someone who is convicted even by the lower judicial court can not contest the elections for the next five years.

"There will be a serious leadership issue in the BNP in the absence of Khaleda".

Shirin Akhter MP, general secretary of the other JaSoD faction, however, said, "It's a verdict on a corruption case". Dhaka-based group Ain O Salish Kendra said a "total of 1,786 persons have been arrested in the last eight days".

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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.

The ACC alleged that the two charities, the other being the Zia Charitable Trust, existed only on paper and a huge amount of money was misappropriated in the name of the two organisations while Zia was the prime minister during the BNP's 2001-2006 government.

The other convicts are former lawmaker Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal, businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed, ex-premier's principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddiqui and her nephew Mominur Rahman.

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

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Tthe BNP told DW the ruling was politically motivated. It was seen by many as a blunder on her part as she remained on the fringe of national politics.

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