Bangladesh: Court doubles jail term for Khaleda Zia in orphanage graft case

A Bangladeshi court doubled former PM Khaleda Zia’s jail term from 5 to 10 years in a corruption case. The decision came a day after she was sentenced to seven years in another graft case

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI

NH Web Desk

In a stunning decision, a Bangladeshi court on Tuesday, October 30, doubled former prime minister Khaleda Zia's jail term from five to 10 years in a corruption case.

The decision came a day after she was sentenced to seven years in prison in another graft case.

A High Court bench comprising Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Mostafizur Rahman announced the verdict after accepting the Anti-Corruption Commission's review petition to increase Zia's imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case, The Daily Star reported.

"This verdict means that Khaleda Zia will not be able to contest in the upcoming election," ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told reporters.

A Dhaka court sentenced Zia to five years in jail in the orphanage corruption case on February 8. Her son Tarique Rahman and four others – Kamal Uddin Siddique, Salimul, Sharfuddin, and Ziaur Rahman's nephew Mominur Rahman – were sentenced to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment. In this case, Khaleda and five others, including her elder son Tarique Rahman, were accused of embezzling over 20 million taka ($253,164) from the orphanage trust during her 2001-2006 Prime Minister term.

Zia has been imprisoned at the former central jail since then.

On October 6, she was taken to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University hospital, where she is currently receiving treatment.

The verdict is crucial as it came ahead of the parliamentary elections in December. Zia's party had boycotted the 2014 elections.

A day before, the former Bangladeshi Prime Minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia was sentenced to seven-year jail in a corruption case on Monday October 29.

The verdict was announced at the temporary court premises set up at the old central prison in the capital, reported.

The case was filed against Khaleda by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) eight years ago. The ACC had accused her and three others of embezzling 31.54 million taka ($397,435) from the the Zia Charitable Trust.

The final trial proceedings in the case went ahead in the absence of Khaleda, who is serving time in jail over another corruption case, after the prison authorities repeatedly failed to bring her to court.

Khaleda's former political affairs secretary Harris Chowdhury, his former aide Ziaul Islam Munna and former Dhaka Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka's personal secretary Monirul Islam Khan were the three others convicted in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.

The former Prime Minister and the other convicts were also fined 10 lakh taka each, in default of which they will have to suffer six months more in jail, according to the verdict.

Chowdhury has been at large since the start of the case. The other two convicts were present in the court to hear the verdict.

Khaleda has reportedly been facing dozens of cases, including five on corruption charges and 15 for masterminding violence during their anti-government movement since 2014.

Khaleda has often said that political vendettas were to blame for the cases against her and her son.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines