Bangladesh opposition leader handed another jail term ahead of elections

(Corrects figure in the lede)

Dhaka, Aug 2 (EFE).- A Bangladesh court on Wednesday sentenced Tarique Rahman, the exiled leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, to another nine years in prison on charges of amassing illegal wealth, at a time when his party is mounting pressure on the government over upcoming elections.

The sentence against Rahman, the son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, follows a series of convictions and prison terms that have been slapped against him in his absence, including a life sentence in 2018 for allegedly taking part in a 2004 grenade attack against a meeting of the current ruling party Awami League.

Apart from sentencing Rahman to nine years in prison, the court slapped a 30 million taka ($2.7 million) fine on him and ordered the confiscation of his assets worth 27.4 million taka.

The verdict comes at a time when the BNP – led by Rahman as the interim president – and other opposition parties are pressurizing the government to resign and hand over power to an interim provisional administration ahead of the upcoming general elections, set to be held in December or January, in order to ensure their integrity.

Opposition supporters dubbed Rahman’s sentence as a retaliatory action against them, and BNP’s law affairs secretary Kaiser Kamal told reporters that it was part of a “political scheme” by the government that the people no longer believed in.

The charges against the opposition leader date back to the military-led Bangladeshi government in 2007, when the anti-corruption commission accused Rahman – who has been living in London since 2008 – of illegally accumulating more than 48 million takas.

Rahman has been leading the BNP in the absence of his mother, who was sentenced to a 10 year prison term in 2018 for corruption before securing a bail in 2020 through a government order, which bans her from taking part in political activities or leaving the country.

The ruling Awami League possesses a landslide parliamentary majority since the 2018 general elections, when it was accused of electoral fraud by the opposition. EFE


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