Former Prime Minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia were jailed for five years on Thursday after she was found guilty in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case.
Her elder son Tarique and four others have been given 10 years in prison.
Judge Dr Akhtaruzzaman of Dhaka special judge court-5 also sentenced the other five accused, including her ‘fugitive’ elder son and BNP’s senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman, to 10-year imprisonment each.
The Anti-Corruption Commission had lodged the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case with Ramna Police Station on July 3, 2008, for embezzling Taka 2.10 crore meant for orphans.
Former lawmaker Kazi Salim Haque, businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed, Khaleda’s former principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddiqui and BNP founder Zia-ur Rahman’s nephew Momenur Rahman, were indicted in the cases on March 19, 2014.
According to the complainant, a grant of US$1,255,000 was transferred from the United Saudi Commercial Bank to the Prime Minister’s Orphanage Fund. The fund was created by the then Premier Khaleda, shortly before the transfer was made on June 9, 1991.
The trial against Zia centred around US$252,000 (£182,000) intended for an orphanage trust set up when she was Prime Minister. She was found guilty of embezzling the funds.
According to The Daily Star, as she went into court, she told weeping relatives: “I will be back. Do not worry and be strong.”
The charges against her had already led to her boycotting elections in 2014, which triggered widespread protests at the time.
The complainant alleged that the fund was created as part of the embezzlement scheme, and only Khaleda administered the fund.
The judge read a short summary of the 632-page verdict in the presence of Zia.
She entered the makeshift court premises at around I.40 pm, accompanied by BNP supporters and activists.
Throughout the way, the former Prime Minister was escorted by a large number of law enforcers and party activists at the front.
Her motorcade witnessed tension in Moghbazar and Kakrail, on the way to court, where police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the activists, amid a standing ban on the gathering, clamped in this capital city for Thursday.
Meanwhile, two other accused in the case were already taken to the special court in the morning.As the verdict went against Zia, there is a possibility that she might not be able to contest the election slated for December this year.
She was made vice-chairperson of BNP in March 1983 after the assassination of her husband and former President, Ziaur Rahman.
She became chairperson of the party on May 10, 1984, a post she holds until today.According to Zia’s BNP, hundreds of its supporters were arrested in the run-up to the verdict