Dhaka (Bangladesh): Former Bangladesh Prime Minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia was on Monday sentenced to another seven years in jail by a court in a corruption case. 73-year-old Zia is already serving a jail term since February after being convicted in a embezzlement of funds of an orphanage case.

The case was filed against Khaleda by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) eight years ago. The ACC had accused her and three others of embezzling 31.54 million taka ($397,435) from the Zia Charitable Trust. The verdict was announced at the temporary court premises set up at the old central prison in the capital.

Zia was sentenced along with three others — Khaleda’s former political affairs secretary Harris Chowdhury, his former aide Ziaul Islam Munna and former Dhaka Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka’s personal secretary Monirul Islam Khan.

Earlier in the day, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court cleared the way for a lower court to deliver its verdict in the case by rejecting Zia’s plea to halt the proceedings. The apex court rejected a leave-to-appeal petition filed by Zia challenging the High Court judgment that allowed a lower court to continue the trial in the graft case in her absence.

The court on September 20 decided to continue the trial inside the old Dhaka central jail in Zia’s absence. The former premier on September 27 filed a revision petition with the High Court (HC) challenging the court’s September 20 order. On October 14, the HC rejected the revision petition of Zia and cleared the way for the trial court to continue with its proceedings.

With agency inputs