Bangladesh Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus sentenced to six months in jail

The allegation against him of violating labour laws has been proved, says judge

Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus (photo: @arafatul/X)
Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus (photo: @arafatul/X)


Bangladesh's Nobel laureate economist Dr Muhammad Yunus was on Monday sentenced to six months in jail by a court on charges of labour law violation, a development termed as "politically motivated" by his supporters.

"The allegation against him of violating the labour laws has been proved. It appears that the allegation has not been barred by limitation (either)," said labour court judge Sheikh Merina Sultana while pronouncing the judgment.

The third labour court judge ruled that 83-year-old Yunus, who was present in court, would serve six months of simple or non-rigorous imprisonment for violating the law as Grameen Telecom chairman, along with three other executives of the social business company.

She also slapped a Taka 25,000 fine on each of them, saying that in case of default, they would have to serve 10 more days in jail.

Soon after the verdict, Yunus and three others applied for bail. The judge immediately granted one month's bail in exchange for a Taka 5,000 bond.

Under the law, Yunus and the three others could appeal against the verdict in the high court.

Yunus — whose experiments with banking for the underprivileged earned Bangladesh the reputation of being the home of microfinance, and three of his colleagues in Grameen Telecom — one of the firms he founded, were accused of violating labour laws when they failed to create a workers' welfare fund in the company.

Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his anti-poverty campaign through Grameen Bank, a mode which was replicated across continents.

He has been in a protracted row with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government for reasons not made clear, while authorities began a series of investigations against him after she came to power in 2008.

His supporters have described the judgment as "politically motivated".

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