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Khaleda Zia challenges 10-year prison term in orphanage graft case

Bangladesh's former prime minister Khaleda Zia on Monday challenged the 10-year sentence handed out to her for embezzling funds meant for an orphanage trust in her late husband's name, claiming that she has been convicted in a "fabricated" case.

A bail petition was also submitted alongside the petition seeking stay order of the jail term, reported bdnews24.

On February 8, Dhaka Special Court convicted the former premier in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and sentenced her to five years of imprisonment for embezzling 21 million Bangladeshi Taka (USD 252,504) in foreign donations meant for the Trust. Five others accused - including her son and BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman - received 10 years' imprisonment each.

On October 30, the High Court doubled the jail term of Zia to 10 years.

"Usually a sentence is reduced on appeal. But in Khaleda Zia's case it was increased. This is completely motivated by politics," the former premier's lawyer Kaysar Kamal was quoted as saying by the report.

The BNP chairperson has been "sentenced in a false, fabricated and fake case”, he added.

The petition to stay the verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case was filed a day after she challenged the trial court's verdict in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case in which she was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Tk 1 million (USD 12,024).

Zia, 73, has been in custody since February 8, when she was handed jail term in the case related to embezzlement of funds in the orphanage trust named after her husband late president Ziaur Rahman.

Zia was made vice-chairperson of the BNP in March 1983 after the assassination of her husband. She became chairperson of the party on May 10, 1984, a post she is holding till now.

In her 35 years of political career, Zia went to the jail several times.

During the 2007-2008 tenure of the army-backed caretaker government, she was in jail for about a year on charges of corruption.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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