Bangladesh prosecutors seek life for opposition leader Zia

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia waves to activists in this file photo.(Reuters)
Updated 25 January 2018

Bangladesh prosecutors seek life for opposition leader Zia

DHAKA: Bangladesh prosecutors on Thursday demanded life imprisonment for opposition leader Khaleda Zia for corruption.
The two-time prime minister and head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party could be banned from standing in a national election this year if she is convicted. Zia has said the case is politically motivated.
The trial of Zia and her son Tarique Rahman before a special anti-corruption court ended Thursday and a judge said a verdict would be given Feb. 8.
"We hope all the accused of this case will be sentenced to life in jail," lead prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kazal told reporters after the final arguments.
Prosecutors have accused Zia, her son and aides of stealing some 21 million taka ($252,000) from a trust created for an orphanage.
Hearings have been delayed for years by numerous petitions to higher courts.
Zia's lawyers say the charges are aimed at keeping Zia and her family, which ruled the country for 15 years, from politics.
"It is not a criminal case. It is a political case," her lawyer Moudud Ahmed, a former justice minister, told AFP.
"She will be acquitted. It is a case of no evidence," he added.
Zia faces dozens of separate charges related to violence and corruption.
Her son, who is in exile in London, was convicted of money laundering in 2016.
Last month prosecutors sought the death sentence for Rahman for his alleged role in a deadly 2004 grenade attack in which current prime minister Sheikh Hasina was injured.
The trial is fraught with risk for the authorities.
A conviction of the 72-year-old Zia could trigger protests by her centre-right BNP and Islamist allies. Similar demonstrations in 2014 and 2015 around elections left nearly 200 people dead.
Prime Minister Hasina this month announced a general election would be held this year. The BNP, which boycotted 2014 polls, is expected to contest the vote.


Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

  • Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status
  • Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan branded India an “oppressor and aggressor” on Wednesday, a year after New Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-administered Kashmir.
Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, a move that outraged Islamabad.
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it.
“India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor,” Khan said in a statement.
“Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited,” he added, calling India’s action last year a “crime against humanity.”
Khan led a march through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, before addressing the region’s legislative assembly.
Across the city, more than 2,000 people turned out at a series of anti-India protests.
“We ask the world to give Kashmiris their right of self-determination, otherwise we will cross the Line of Control and help our brothers on the other side with arms,,” Arslan Ahmad, a refugee who fled Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
“Half of my family is under siege in Indian-occupied Kashmir, my mother is dying to meet her sister, this dispute has left our generations torn apart,” 31-year old Usman Mir added.
Police were enforcing tight restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, where religious and political groups had called on residents to observe a “black day.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government had promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Khan accused India of trying to turn Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority by ending restrictions on outsiders buying up property “in blatant violation of... UN Security Council Resolutions and international laws.”
The change in rules has sparked fears that the Modi government is pursuing an Israel-style “settler” project.
A referendum in Kashmir mandated by a UN resolution in 1948 has never taken place.
“India has learned from Israel how to change the demography (of Kashmir),” President Arif Alvi told a rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, which observed a one-minute silence.
Hundreds of billboards and banners displayed graphic images purportedly of human rights violations by Indian authorities in Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Pakistan released a new official map showing all of Kashmir as its territory.
The Pakistan military, meanwhile, said Indian troops had fired a shell across the de-facto border, killing a young woman and wounding six other people.
Such exchanges are common along the Kashmir demarcation line, with shells blasted in both directions.