A court in Dhaka on Tuesday extended former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s jail term from five years to 10 years in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case, reported the Dhaka Tribune. Zia was convicted in February of embezzling funds meant for the orphanage and sentenced to five years in jail.
On Monday, Zia and three others were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in another corruption case – this time for abuse of power and raising 3.15 crore taka (Rs 2.72 crore) from unknown sources for the Zia Charitable Trust. The two sentences will run concurrently.
The Anti-Corruption Commission had filed a review petition seeking a lengthier jail term for Zia, which the court accepted on Tuesday. “This verdict means that Khaleda Zia will not be able to contest in the upcoming national elections [in December],” said the Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan.
The court dismissed the petitions of two other convicts in the orphanage case, Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal and Sharfuddin Ahmed, who will remain in prison for 10 years.
“Khaleda Zia was the key suspect in the case, which is why we demanded increasing her punishment,” BDNews24 quoted Alam Khan as saying. “The High Court granted our appeal scaling up the punishment to 10 years from five.”
In February, Zia and five others, including her son Tarique Rahman, were convicted of embezzling 21 million takas (approximately Rs 1.6 crore) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust, which was established during her time as prime minister from 2001 to 2006.
According to prosecutors, the Zia Orphanage Trust and the Zia Charitable Trust were established in the name of Zia’s late husband and former President Ziaur Rahman and existed only on paper.