Bangladesh court to issue trial verdict in graft case against ex-PM Khaleda Zia

Bangladesh court to issue trial verdict in graft case against ex-PM Khaleda Zia

The verdict on former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s graft trial will be handed down today, less than two months

Khaleda Zia

Photo: Reuters

The verdict on former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s graft trial will be handed down today, less than two months before the country’s general election in December.

Zia has been jailed since the beginning of this year, having already been convicted of corruption charges for her involvement in the Zia Orphanage Trust Case. Since then, her lawyers have done little but stall for more time, refusing to present their arguments to halt the proceedings which threaten to increase her original sentence of five years.

This tactic seems to have run its course, as the case’s judge will announce the verdict without hearing from her defence today. Such a decision is unprecedented and will draw criticism from Zia’s supporters as being unjust and extrajudicial. Regardless, given her lawyer’s unwillingness to present arguments, expect Ms Zia to be determined guilty of corruption and her sentenced increased—potentially to life.

Without Zia, the opposition will be headless, but a guilty verdict marred by suspicions of government interference may rally more support to her cause. Protests following her sentence are likely, potentially giving the opposition a sorely-needed boost come December’s election.

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