Vastavam web: Clashes erupted today in Bangladesh between supporters of Khaleda Zia and police ahead of a corruption trial verdict against the ex-prime minister and main opposition BNP chief.A Dhaka court is set to deliver the judgement in the trial in which Zia, 72, and five others, including her expatriate elder son Tarique Rahman, accused of embezzling 21 million takas (USD 252,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.Elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armed police were called out to guard Dhaka’s streets while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League said their activists would be ready to “assist police” if the BNP tried to foment any unrest over the verdict.
All measures have been taken to prevent BNP supporters from staging demonstration or causing any damage to life and properties.”We hope that the law and order will be normal and under control across the country. If anyone tries to disrupt law and order and threaten public safety, law enforcers will handle it strictly,” IGP Javed Patwary told reporters at the police headquarters.Legal experts said Zia, who served as premier for three terms, could face life imprisonment if found guilty of the charges while a conviction would simultaneously disqualify her from contesting the next general election slated for December.Her party had boycotted the 2014 polls over its demands for an election-time non-party government, and became the opposition outside parliament. But it is expected to contest the upcoming polls.
Political analysts said the BNP might see a political split as several senior leaders could disassociate themselves from Zia as her son Rahman, the senior vice president of the party, is seen as wielding authority from London while ignoring party veterans.The ex-premier on November 30, 2014 lost her last ditch effort to evade the graft trial as the Supreme Court turned down her second ‘leave to appeal’ petition challenging her indictment and asked her to face trial in the lower court.The high court earlier validated the trial in the lower court which on March 19, 2014 had indicted Zia on two graft charges brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).The ACC alleged that the two charities, the other being the Zia Charitable Trust, existed only on paper and a huge amount of money was misappropriated in the name of the two organisations while Zia was premier during the BNP’s 2001-2006 government.s