Violent protests as opposition leader is jailed in Bangladesh

Pauline Gross
February 9, 2018

Her son Tarique Rahman and four others got 10 years' jail term in connection with the same case.

After the verdict, Zia was taken to the Dhaka Central jail.

She was convicted of embezzling up to $250,000 from a trust fund dedicated to an orphanage during her tenure as prime minister from 2001-2006.

Khaleda's son, Tarique Rahman, and four others were jailed for 10 years at the end of a case that lasted almost 10 years.

Security forces were on high alert ahead of the verdict, fearing clashes with Zia's supporters.

The 72-year-old leader plans to appeal against her conviction, lawyers said, and is likely to be freed on bail during that process, But it may affect her ability to stand in the general elections slated for December.

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.

Rahman, the vice chairman of the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been living in London for the past nine years.

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In fact, it was also being whispered - loudly - in Dhaka that if elections were to be held in Bangladesh today, Hasina's Awami League would lose.

A few scattered protests broke out February 8, with police firing tear gas at Zia supporters.

Bangladeshi Police has clashed with thousands of protesters, after opposition leader Khaleda Zia was jailed for five years for corruption, a BBC News report said here Thursday.

In the 35 years of her political career, Zia has spent time in jail on a number of occasions.

"We are just monitoring what the latest developments regarding this verdict and we expect that we will say something more once we have evaluated the situation", Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for Guterres, said on Thursday answering a reporter's question about the verdict.

Reportedly, there was a state of curfew in the capital and many cities, with heightened security and a shutdown of schools/shops.

The Bangladesh government should publicly order the security forces to abide by global standards on policing demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said. The opposition has accused the government of arresting hundreds of supporters ahead of the verdict. "The government has a responsibility to prevent and minimize violence, but it needs to do so in a way that respects basic rights, not flouts them".

The leading Bengali-language daily Prothom Alo reported that some 1,200 leaders and activists have been arrested since Wednesday.

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