Bangladesh court doubles jail term for opposition leader Zia

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –A Bangladeshi court has doubled the jail term of opposition leader Khaleda Zia from five to 10 years in a corruption case following an appeal by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

The two-time former prime minister was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment in February in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. She has been in jail since then.

Bangladesh’s imprisoned opposition leader was handed another seven years in prison on Monday for corruption, charges her supporters say are politically motivated to prevent her from running in general elections due by the end of the year.

Zia, chairperson of the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and five others were accused of embezzlement of funds meant for charity.

The six, including her son and heir-apparent Tarique Rahman, were convicted in February for embezzling over $252,000 from foreign donations intended for a charity named after former President Ziaur Rahman, Zia’s husband.

“Now, there’s no chance for the BNP chief to contest the next election,” Khurshid Alam Khan, a lawyer for the government, told reporters.

Khaleda and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, both related to former national leaders, have dominated politics in Bangladesh for more than two decades, nursing a long and bitter rivalry.

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