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Bangladesh opposition leader’s corruption conviction risks BNP schism, reducing risk of violent unrest before December 2018 election

09 February 2018

Event

On 8 February, a special court in Dhaka found former prime minister and chairperson of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia guilty of corruption, sentencing her to a five-year prison term.

The court found that Zia had misappropriated donations to her charitable organisation, the Zia Orphanage Trust. Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, the vice-chairman of the BNP, was also found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Rahman, currently living in exile in London after being convicted in Bangladesh in 2016 for money laundering, has assumed leadership of the BNP.

Local police officials reported that more than 3,000 people were arrested ahead of and after the verdict, while at least 12 were injured in sporadic fighting between BNP supporters and police in Dhaka, Mymensingh, and Chittagong.

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