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Ex-Bangladesh Prime Minister Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison


FILE - Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia waves to activists as she arrives for a rally in Dhaka, Jan. 20, 2014.

Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges.

The 72-year-old Zia received the verdict Thursday in a courtroom in the capital, Dhaka. She was convicted of embezzling up to $250,000 from a trust fund dedicated to an orphanage during her tenure as prime minister from 2001-2006.

Zia's son, Tarique Rahman, and four other people convicted in the case were sentenced by the judge to 10 years in prison for their involvement in the crime. Her son lives in exile in London.

The conviction bars Zia, the head of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, from running in the next national elections set for December. Her lawyers have denounced the case as politically motivated.

Thousands of Zia's supporters poured onto the streets of Dhaka ahead of Thursday's hearing and escorted her motorcade to the courtroom, despite the heavy presence of police deployed throughout the city. Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators ahead of Zia's hearing.

Bangladesh's political scene has been dominated by a bitter rivalry between Zia and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the daughter and widow of assassinated presidents, who have traded power back and forth for decades.

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