Bangladesh former PM sentenced to five years in prison

Khaleda Zia, former prime minister and opposition leader has been sentenced to five years in prison for corruption by a court in Dhaka.

The sentence, which makes her prohibited from contesting in this year's parliamentary poll, stems from charges against her she claimed to be politically motivated. 

The former prime minister has denied the accussation that she
and her son, misused and stole 21 million taka ($253,000) in international funds that were donated to a charitable children's trust from 2001 to 2006. Ms Zia, a political rival of prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has dozens of cases still pending against her. 

Her son, Tarique Rahman also received a sentence of 10 years in prison.

Earlier, thousands of opposition activists, in support of the former prime minister, before the verdict took to the streets to protest, disregarding a ban on rallies by the countries police. The crowd was dispersed by police personnel using tear gas. Asaduzzaman Mia, Dhaka's police commisioner, while speaking to reporters said “Security has been ramped up in the capital and elsewhere in the country to thwart any untoward incidents.”

Khaleda's Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders said more than 3,500 supporters have been detained over the past few days and that the charges were trumped-up to keep Khaleda and her familty out of the nation's politics. 

Both Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia have dominated Bangladesh politics for over two decades and have a bitter and long standing rivalry, with both relatives to former national leaders of the country.

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