Ex-PM gets five years for graft

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

But Zia's supporters clashed with police as she was on her way to the court.

Bangladesh law says anyone imprisoned for more than two years can not run for office for the next five years, but Law Minister Anisul Huq said the final decision rests with the courts.

Authorities have for days been on high alert for protests in tense Dhaka, where political demonstrations by BNP and its Islamist allies in 2014 and 2015 left almost 200 people dead.

Bangladesh politics are deeply fractious, with rivals Hasina and Zia ruling the country alternately since 1991, when democracy was restored.

Moudud Ahmed, Khaleda's lawyer and a standing committee member of the party, said that the trial and verdict were contrary to the constitutional provisions.

"It was a government blueprint and our leader has been denied justice and been sent jail in a false case in order to harass her for a long time and to weaken our party". "She can also seek bail".

The Bangladesh government should stop the arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition BNP supporters and others, Human Rights Watch has said.

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Zia, the chairperson of the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), along with five others, was accused of embezzlement of funds meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.

She, along with her son and four aides, were charged with stealing foreign donations received by an orphanage trust she had created.

The government should publicly order the security forces to abide by global standards on policing demonstrations, it added.

"They have already detained more than 3,000 of our activists and leaders from various parts of the country", he said.

Clashes were reported between security forces and her supporters who had defied security measures to escort the vehicle taking Zia to court. "No way we will accept this verdict", BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told AFP after the hearing.Zia´s lawyer Khandkar Mahbub Hossain said the ruling was "political vengeance" and would be overturned by a higher court.

"The Bangladesh government's claims to be open and democratic ring hollow as it cracks down on political dissent", Adams said.

Concerns have also been raised that AL and BNP supporters might provoke violence and target each other's supporters, HRW said.

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