By Mutasim Billah
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - A special judge’s court in Dhaka has sentenced former prime minister and head of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia to five years in prison for corruption.
Her eldest son BNP’s vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, who lives in London, and four others were sentenced to 10 years in jail each in what is known as the Zia orphanage graft case.
Following the verdict, local newspaper The Daily Star said Zia was taken to the Dhaka Central jail.
The case against Zia involves the embezzlement of $252,000 of foreign funds destined for a charity created by the former prime minister in 1991.
The verdict would in effect entail Zia's non-partcipation in the upcoming general election in December.
Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed, spokesman for Zia's Bangladesh National Party, called on supporters to demonstate peacerfully against the ruling.
Zia and the BNP have described the charges as politically motivated.