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Hearings Begin Against Bangladesh Opposition Leader


Hearings Begin Against Bangladesh Opposition Leader

Hearings Begin Against Bangladesh Opposition Leader
Photo: Reuters

A Dhaka Court will commence indictment hearings today against former Prime Minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia.

The hearings come as Zia is charged with celebrating a fake birthday on National Mourning Day which commemorates the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

As leader of Bangladesh’s main opposition party Zia was convicted of corruption charges and sent to prison ahead of the 2018 elections. Supporters claim that her arrest and trial were politically motivated by PM Hasina’s Awami League. The BNP claim that authorities brought more than 300,000 criminal cases against party members and supporters, representing systemic repression by the government against opposition parties in the lead up to the election. The international legal community and human rights organizations have expressed concern over the legitimacy of the case, questioning the fairness of the trials.

Zia will likely be sentenced by the court amounting to already imposed jail time, impeding her ability to campaign and the BNP’s chances of regaining power in the next general election. The results will likely be met by protests from BNP supporters. In response to escalating protests, police force will likely be accompanied by suppression of dissent initiatives to quash government criticisms.

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