Khaleda Zia – the former PM of Bangladesh and the pro-Pakistan leader was sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges by a court. Khaleda Zia is the de-facto rival to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and is already behind bars after being handed a five-year term in February on separate fraud charges.
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That verdict triggered clashes between police and thousands of supporters of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which Khalida Zia still leads from jail.
There was no immediate reaction from Zia’s BNP, but her lawyers have consistently described the trial as “political vengeance”. Zia, once an ally to Hasina, boycotted the 2014 general election which saw her opponent returned to power. Zia entered politics in the mid-1980s after her husband, a former military dictator, was assassinated in an abortive coup.
She faces dozens of separate charges related to violence and corruption that her lawyers insist are baseless. Zia says the charges are designed to keep her family out of politics.
In recent months, her health has deteriorated inside Dhaka Central prison where she is the sole prisoner in incarceration.
She was absent from the court Monday as she was being treated in hospital for various ailments. A special room inside the prison was converted into a makeshift court in an effort to fast-track her trial.
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