DHAKA, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — A court in Bangladesh capital Dhaka has sentenced former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and three others to seven years in prison on corruption charges.
Amid tight security, Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Special Court-5 in Dhaka delivered the verdict on Monday afternoon.
Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol told journalists that Khaleda Zia and the other convicts were also fined 1 million taka (about 11,904 U.S. dollars) each, in default of which they will have to suffer six months more in jail.
He said this is the highest punishment under the existing law.
On Oct. 16, Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman fixed the verdict date after rejecting the petition filed by Zia’s lawyer seeking adjournment of the hearing of the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
The verdict was announced shortly after the country’s apex court on Monday cleared the way for the lower court to deliver its verdict in the case, rejecting a leave-to-appeal petition filed by Khaleda Zia’s lawyers against a High Court judgement that also allowed the lower court to continue the trial in absence of the opposition party chief.
Defense lawyers boycotted the trial.
In February, Khaleda Zia, also chairperson of the largest opposition BangladeshNationalist Party (BNP), was sentenced to five years in prison in another Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The former prime minister has reportedly been facing dozens of cases, including five on corruption charges and 15 for masterminding violence during their anti-government movement since 2014.
Zia often said political vendettas are to blame for the cases against her and her son.
On Oct. 6, Khaleda Zia was admitted to a hospital in capital Dhaka on Saturday afternoon for treatment following a court directive.
BNP has been demanding the release of Khaleda Zia before the national election slated for December. Enditem