Another 7-year jail term for Khaleda Zia in graft case

Wednesday 31st October 2018 06:49 EDT

Dhaka: Bangladesh's former prime minister Khaleda Zia was sentenced to another seven years in jail by a court in a corruption case. Khaleda, 73, who is already serving a jail term since February after being convicted in another case related embezzlement of funds of an orphanage named after her late husband president Ziaur Rahman in February, was sentenced along with three others. The latest sentence is related the Zia Charitable Trust. According to the case, Khaleda and three others abused their power and raised funds for the trust from unknown sources. Earlier, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court cleared the way for a lower court to deliver its verdict in the case by rejecting Khaleda’s plea to halt the proceedings.

The apex court rejected a leave-to-appeal petition filed by khaleda challenging the high court judgment that allowed a lower court to continue trial in the graft case in her absence. The court on 20 September decided to continue the trial inside the old Dhaka central jail in Khaleda's absence. The former premier on 27 September filed a revision petition in the high court challenging the court's 20 September order. On 14 October, the HC rejected Khaleda’s revision petition and cleared the way for the trial court to continue with its proceedings. Khaleda had skipped appearances in the case, citing illness.

To spend two more years in jail

The terms will run concurrently, meaning she will spend an extra two years in jail. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been in disarray ahead of general elections set for December after Khaleda was jailed in February. Khaleda and three aides were convicted for the misappropriation of 31.5 million taka ($371,550) for a trust when she was the prime minister, from 2001 to 2006, state prosecutors said. Her party says the charges are part of a plot to keep her and her family out of politics.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda, both related to former leaders, have dominated politics in poverty-stricken Bangladesh for more than two decades, nursing a long and bitter rivalry. Hasina’s Awami League came to power for a second consecutive term in 2014 after a bloody parliamentary election that was boycotted by Khaleda’s party.

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