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Khaleda Zia behind the bar for five years

DHAKA: A court in Bangladesh sentenced opposition leader Khaleda Zia to five years in jail on Thursday after convicting the two-time former premier of embezzling money meant for an orphanage.

Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was found guilty of stealing $252,000 from a trust created for an orphanage, a charge she had dismissed as politically motivated.

“Since the court has been able to prove the charges against her and considering her social and physical status, Zia has been sentenced to five years in jail in the section 409 and 109 of the penal codes,” said the judge, Mohammad Akhteruzzaman.

Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, a co-defendant in the case, and four of her aides were sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Earlier violent clashes broke out between security forces and pro-opposition protesters in the capital Dhaka.

Police fired tear gas at thousands of opposition activists who defied heavy security to escort the car taking Zia to a Dhaka court for the verdict.

The private television station Somoy said at least five police officers had been injured and two motorcycles torched during the clashes that broke out several kilometres (miles) from the court premises. – AFP

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