Bangladesh's ex-premier and Opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia was on Thursday sentenced to five years in jail in a corruption case.
Zia, 72, was sentenced by a special court-5 in the capital, Dhaka, in connection with embezzlement $252,000 (21 million takas) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.
Her son Tarique Rahman and four others were also sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Earlier, PTI quoted legal experts as saying that a conviction would disqualify Zia from contesting the general election slated for December.
The ex-premier on 30 November, 2014, lost her last-ditch effort to evade the graft trial as the Supreme Court turned down her second 'leave to appeal' petition challenging her indictment and asked her to face trial in the lower court.
The high court earlier validated the trial in the lower court which on 19 March, 2014, indicted Zia on two graft charges brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The ACC alleged that the two charities, the other being the Zia Charitable Trust, existed only on paper, and a huge amount of money was misappropriated in the name of the two organisations while Zia was premier during the BNP's 2001-2006 government.
Hundreds of activists poured in on Dhaka roads as Zia headed to court.
Clashes broke out between police and BNP activists who hurled bricks. Police had to lob tear gas shells to stop protesters. Dhaka has been wrapped in an unprecedented security blanket.
Elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armed police were called out to guard the streets of the capital city while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League said their activists would be ready to "assist police" if the BNP tried to foment any unrest.
Zia, in a press conference ahead of the verdict, blamed the government for unleashing a "reign of terror" and claimed she was implicated in a "false case", but said she was ready to face any fate.
Her party boycotted the 2014 polls over its demands for an election-time non-party government, and became the Opposition outside parliament. But it is expected to contest the upcoming polls.
With inputs from PTI View More